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09 February 2015
If the walls could talk, they'd probably chat with your Samsung Smart TV: The Internet-connected set may be listening in on users' personal conversations.
"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," the site says.
Those third parties, according to Samsung's policies, perform tasks like converting speech to text, while data collection helps the company improve its services, it said.
Voice-recognition data collection can be turned off via the settings menu, but "this may prevent you from using all of the Voice Recognition features," Samsung said.
Samsung unveiled its line of brainy TVs at CES 2012, but has made a few tweaks in the years since. In December 2013, alongside the new "finger gesture" function, the company boosted its voice interaction service, expanding it to 12 additional markets. Frequently used features like channel surfing, opening apps, and searching for shows or movies also got a lot easier. Want to check the score of yesterday's baseball game? Just ask the TV, and a pop-up results window will appear at the bottom of the screen.
Samsung did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment. A spokeswoman, however, told CNET that "Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously.
"In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers' personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use," she continued.
When activated (users will see a microphone icon on the screen), voice data consists of TV commands and search sentences only, the spokeswoman said. But the company 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 request voice command search," Samsung told CNET. "At that time, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV."
Samsung's TVs are not the only devices that have an "always on" listening mode; gadgets like the Amazon Echo, Microsoft Xbox One, and Motorola Moto X have similar features.