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Forget Big Brother is watching, Samsung is listening

Samsung has come under fire, after the terms of voice recognition on its smart TVs were scrutinised, with one particularly disturbing find being made.

When the software on the smart TV is listening out for user voice commands, it can transmit anything – even personal conversations you’re having with others in the room (or indeed if you’re talking to yourself, more embarrassingly).

As the Telegraph reports, Samsung’s smart TV privacy policy states: “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.”

Exactly who that third party is, well, that’s obviously not clear – but clearly enough, this is a worrying state of affairs where living room privacy is concerned. If you recall, when the Xbox One was first announced with mandatory always-on Kinect as part of the bargain, there was a massive outcry about Microsoft putting a virtual spy in the corner of the lounge.

Samsung did make a statement on the matter to say that it used data encryption to keep any transmitted data safe, and that users can turn the voice recognition feature off, which will avoid this issue (and the company did also note that the user doesn’t have to connect their TV online, either – though it won’t be much of a smart TV if you don’t have it hooked up to your router).

However, this whole affair, and comparisons to George Orwell’s 1984 which have been made across the net on the topic, is hardly likely to endear Samsung’s high-end TVs to consumers.

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.