Menu
Samsung: Our smart TVs aren't eavesdropping on your conversations

Samsung: Our smart TVs aren't eavesdropping on your conversations

Users have to deliberately press buttons to activate the voice commands features

People can speak freely around Samsung smart TVs without fear that their conversations will be captured and transmitted to a data center, the company has said in response to privacy concerns related to its devices' voice recognition capabilities.

Samsung TVs don't monitor conversations, the company said in a blog post that clarified how its smart TV handle voice command data.

Voice commands are handled by a microphone embedded in the TV remote control, which triggers interaction with a server for things such as recommending movies or searching for certain TV programs.

Samsung said it collects interactive voice commands only when a person makes a search request, which requires deliberately pressing a button on the remote control and speaking into the remote control's microphone.

Language in the company's privacy policy stoked fears of digital spying in recent days. The policy originally cautioned people against sharing personal information around its voice-controlled TVs. But Samsung has now removed this sentence, which triggered the concerns: "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 through your use of Voice Recognition."

Samsung's amended privacy policy also identifies the third party as Nuance Communications, a Massachusetts company that builds speech recognition software. Nuance handles translating "interactive voice commands" into text enabling the request to be fulfilled, Samsung said.

In addition to the voice data, Nuance receives other information, including "device identifiers." Neither Samsung nor Nuance immediately replied to questions on what specific information is shared and how the data is kept private. It's also not clear for how long the remote control's microphone stays on after it's activated.

Samsung collects spoken commands and texts to improve its voice recognition feature, the company said, adding that voice control functions found in tablets and smartphones work in a similar fashion.

Another microphone built into the TV handles basic, pre-programmed commands like changing the channel or adjusting the volume. Voice data for those requests isn't stored nor transmitted.

Samsung reminded people that they don't have to use the interactive voice commands and can stop their data from being collected. However, disabling data collection prevents the search feature from working, essentially dumbing down a smart TV.

If people decide against using the advanced voice control features, the simple voice commands that the TV is programmed to recognize will still work.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags consumer electronicssecuritySamsung ElectronicsTVs

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments