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Samsung under fire, its smart TV voice recognition software could transmit personal or sensitive information

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South Korean tech giant Samsung has acknowledged that its smart TV products feature a voice recognition technology that captures voice data from users and transmits data gathered to an unnamed third-party company.

Samsung was recently condemned by privacy advocates for its alarming feature. The company’s privacy policy warns users to be careful when speaking about personal or other sensitive information next to the device as it can record data and transmit it to third parties. The Smart TV’s privacy policy also reveals what other data Samsung gathers.

According to Samsung’s Smart TV privacy policy, it reads, “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 Smart TVs with voice recognition constantly listen for voice commands.  The technology permits voice commands in managing TV functions like changing channels and regulating volume. The new products also make use of Samsung's very own operating system named Tizen. Not only does the TV listen for commands, it also gathers data to analyze and improve the feature.

The clause also states that that Samsung cannot be held responsible for how the third party company uses the data it records. However, the tech giant also said that the feature can be switched off to stop data being captured in the first place but users will lose the features functionality altogether.

Besides that, Samsung also captures other data such as “Smart TV usage and device information, including, but not limited to, IP address, information stored in cookies and similar technologies, information that identifies your hardware or software configuration, browser information, and the page(s) you request.”

Additionally, Samsung also collects search queries users has typed while searching for video content, as well as the applications they have used.

While users can turn off personalized recommendations for which the TV gathers the data, Samsung can still collect information about the usage of the Smart TV for the purposes described in its privacy policy.

Also turning off voice recognition does not mean the smart TV won’t continue to collect data. The company states that, Samsung will not record the users spoken word, but may still gather associated texts and other usage information so that they can assess the performance of the feature and improve it.

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