Is Your Samsung SmartTV Spying On You?

A single sentence buried in the privacy policy for Samsung’s Internet-connected SmartTV has raised concerns among experts, as they question just how much data the device’s voice command feature is actually collecting.

In the policy, Samsung states that information collected through voice commands is then sent to an undisclosed third party, according to the Daily Mail. The document warns users that if their spoken words contain personal information, they should be aware that such data will also be transmitted to the third party. Samsung asserts that they may also collect voice commands and “associated texts,” ostensibly in order to improve their service.

“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party,” Samsung’s policy states.

Corynne McSherry, the intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, pointed out that Samsung is disclosing in their statement that they utilize a third party in order to change voice to text. According to the Daily Beast, she also noted that Samsung’s policy raises questions about where a SmartTV may be sending its data.

“If I were the customer, I might like to know who that third party was, and I’d definitely like to know whether my words were being transmitted in a secure form.”

Chief among concerns is the idea that a hacker would be able to turn a SmartTV into an eavesdropping device if its transmission weren’t encrypted. Similar questions were recently raised about Amazon’s Echo, as the Inquisitr previously reported. Michael Price, counsel in the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, also questioned legal issues surrounding SmartTVs when he spoke to Salon in 2014.

“I do not doubt that this data is important to providing customized content and convenience, but it is also incredibly personal, constitutionally protected information that should not be for sale to advertisers and should require a warrant for law enforcement to access,” he wrote.

Samsung released a statement to the Daily Beast, pointing out that data collected by a SmartTV is encrypted. They also asserted that users have multiple options available to them to deactivate the voice recognition feature.

“Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously. In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use. Voice recognition, which allows the user to control the TV using voice commands, is a Samsung Smart TV feature, which can be activated or deactivated by the user. The TV owner can also disconnect the TV from the Wi-Fi network.”

In 2012, Malta-based security firm ReVuln posted a video demonstrating that by installing malicious software in a Samsung SmartTV, they were able to use the device’s microphone and camera to record everything surrounding it.

[Image via Pocket-Lint]