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Samsung Listening

Samsung Rewords Privacy Policy, Would like World to Calm Down

Following the ongoing international coverage of Samsung Smart TVs allegedly having turned into Big Brother, the company goes into damage control mode. Meanwhile consumers become more aware that other devices in their homes could be listening as well.

It all started with Samsung’s seldom read privacy policy that warns customers should:

“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.”

Well now. That certainly sounds scary.

The Smart TV is designed to recognize certain basic commands such as, “change the channel,” “increase the volume”, “please block Fox News”.

That said, it should be acknowledged that, along with producing poorly worded company material for public consumption, Samsung is not alone in using this sort of technology in consumer electronics –several devices have similar features; Nexus devices, Amazon Echo, Microsoft Kinect and even the iPhone (when the device is plugged in and the ‘Hey, Siri’ command is enabled) are all listening to you.

In a blog post with the uninspiring title “Samsung Smart TVs Do Not Monitor Living Room Conversations,” the company  admitted that its clumsily-worded, broad-strokes privacy policy could’ve have been run through the editorial department a few more times for clarity and less fear inducement.

Here’s is the new version of the privacy policy:

If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some interactive voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service provider (currently, Nuance Communications, Inc.) that converts your interactive voice commands to text and to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you.

In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. Samsung will collect your interactive voice commands only when you make a specific search request to the Smart TV by clicking the activation button either on the remote control or on your screen and speaking into the microphone on the remote control.

In short, according to Samsung, your Smart TV only listens to you for very specific voice interaction and is designed to recognize certain basic commands  such as,”change the channel,” “increase the volume”, “please block Fox news”, etc.

Samsung says that its voice recognition technology works no differently than that of other major TV manufacturers and that it only listens when you initiate the feature.

The company insists that the Smart TV is not endlessly recording your family’s living room conversations and various chatter.

Still worried? Here’s how to turn it off

If this doesn’t satisfy you, then you can disable the voice feature all together. Here are instructions courtesy of CNET –they have a video with instructions, too.

Go to the settings menu and select Smart Features. Then scroll down to Voice Recognition and switch it off. While you will no longer be able to use the “Hi TV” command to activate the voice features, you can still access them by pressing the microphone button on your remote.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

 

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