Samsung denies Smart TV could eavesdrop on users' conversations


Samsung Smart TV users are being warned to watch what they say when near the device, after details emerged about how it can track conversations.

The internet-connected TV can be operated using voice commands, while the device's privacy policy features a clause warning users that any spoken words said in the presence of it could be recorded.

"If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some voice commands may be transmitted to a third-party service that converts speech to text or the to the extent necessary to provide [the] features to you.

"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."

It's been suggested the device might be setup to record people's voices for performance-improvement purposes, while the firm has been quick to state any data it collects from users is encrypted.

This is sure to be a big consideration for users, given that without encryption there is a risk the device could be used to spy on household conversations by unscrupulous types.

In a statement, Samsung said: "In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices including data encryption, to secure consumers' personal information and prevent unauthorised collection or use.

"Samsung does not retain voice data or sell it to third parties. If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third-party during a requested voice command search.

"At the same, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.