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Samsung edits privacy policy, reiterates that Smart TVs are not listening in on your conversations

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Last updated: February 15th, 2015 at 20:02 UTC+01:00

Last week a sentence in Samsung’s Smart TV privacy policy got everyone worried. It basically warned users that they should not talk about sensitive or personal information in front of their Samsung Smart TV because “that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.” It didn’t take long for the company to be accused of spying on its users and selling their information to third parties. Even then the company pointed out all of the safeguards it has in place to protect users’ information and the fact that users can opt out of Voice Recognition whenever they please.

Since that didn’t have the intended effect Samsung today edited its Smart TV privacy policy to better explain what’s exactly going on with that Voice Recognition feature. It also assures users that their Smart TVs are not monitoring their living room conversations. Samsung explains that the Voice Recognition feature works in two ways. There’s an embedded microphone inside the TV set which will only pick up on predetermined commands like changing channel or increasing volume. With these predetermined commands voice data is never stored or transmitted.

The second microphone is located inside the remote control and it requires interaction with a service since its used for searching content. For example users can ask the remote to “recommend a good comedy movie,” and what happens in the background similar to most voice recognition services widely available on smartphones and tablets today.

The updated text in Samsung’s Smart TV privacy policy now points out that users can disable Voice Recognition data collection whenever they want through the settings menu, even though it will make some features not work. The policy no longer mentions sensitive information and says that interactive voice commands will only be collected when a specific search request is made by the user by clicking the activation button on the remote.

This should end fears that somehow the company was using its Smart TVs to deliberately spy on users’ conversations.

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