In theory, Smart TVs are great. They are wi-fi compatible, helping us connect to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu with one easy click. If you don’t feel like using a remote, some Smart TVs even offer Voice Recognition, which can allow buyers to access content and interact with Smart TVs using their voices. Unfortunately, if you own a Samsung SmartTV, your private conversations might be recorded by the giant electronics company.

That’s right, Samsung’s privacy policy blatantly explains that those buyers who decide to turn on the Voice Recognition software available with their Samsung SmartTVs will be subject to Samsung collecting your speech and text while you sit in your living room. The company will then send it to a third party which can view your conversations.
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. 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 Smart TV privacy policy is available on its website, but recently activist Parker Higgins, who works with the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation took the policy a step further, comparing it directly to George Orwell’s seminal novel 1984 on Twitter.

This isn’t the first time there have been privacy concerns with Smart TVs. In the past, Smart TVs have come under fire for mining user data, and Samsung openly notes in its privacy policy that the company gives user data to third party companies to “enhance advertising.” Users can also set up gesture controls and facial recognition, although that data is stored locally, according to Samsung’s policy.

A lot of this data storage is no different than what other big companies use to store and track user data, but it’s still a little creepy to see Samsung blatantly warn users to keep their lips sealed when the TV is on because people outside of the home have access to the recordings and could be listening in.

There is good (ish) news. Buyers can simply choose not to activate the Voice Recognition software and viewers’ “spoken word” will not be collected. In fact, you’ll know if the service is on because there is a “microphone icon” on the screen. So, you can turn it off, but it’s just one more way that invasive technology has and is creeping straight into our living rooms.
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