Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Walls have Ears.

Most of us have heard the above clause as a warning that, without adequate safeguards, a private conversation can be overheard. Samsung is now trying to upgrade that adage to, "The TV has ears."

Be Careful What You Say Around Your Samsung Smart TV

The "feature" can, supposedly, be turned off but the article implies that Samsung is being coy about whether the microphone can be turned back on without the owner's knowledge. Even with such an assurance, there is no protection from a future upgrade or a rogue update that allows the microphone to be turned on remotely.

I don't expect stored conversations will be used against the owner of a Samsung Smart TV (or other devices such as the Xbox which use similar technology) -- not at first. However, anytime digital voice data information is passed to a third party there is a possibility it will be stored. A vague reference to "industry standard encryption" does not assure that Samsung intends to prevent the stored data from being traceable to a particular location. In fact, the latest "privacy policy" specifically allows "device identifiers" to be transmitted with your voice data.

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. [emphasis added]

An interesting thing about this is that the data is already acknowledged as belonging to Samsung and/or Nuance so it can be accessed it for a fee instead of having to get a pesky warrant.

The American public accepted being leashed by their smart phones, it is unlikely they will object to being further leashed by their televisions. Make me wonder if a dog realizes he is not free just because he has a longer leash than the other dogs.

Here is another article in the same vein: Samsung changes Smart TV privacy policy in wake of spying fears

1 comment:

  1. I don't foresee myself ever plugging a wireless module or cat5 cable into the back of my Xbox or my tv. If I want to play a game online I go to my office. If I want to download or stream a movie and watch it on the tv I bring my laptop into the living room, plug it in, then take it back to the office when I'm done. Landline phone is in the office.

    If I need to talk about something important, I won't be in the office. My cell phone will though.

    Seems pretty simple to me. Of course, then I go and post comments on websites like this one. Oh well.



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