Samsung Privacy Policy Sparks Concerns That Smart TV Could Be Eavesdropping on Consumers

The debate over privacy concerns with new technology is a debate that has been happening consistently over the years, but the privacy policy for Samsung’s Smart TV is adding an interesting new element to the conversation.

In the pursuit of advanced, personalized technology, many consumers have agreed that some privacy will have to be sacrificed, but just how much privacy should be sacrificed is still up for debate.

Devices today are able to track our locations, monitor our behavior and even learn our personalities, but should they also be allowed to listen in on our personal conversations and collect that information?

That’s the question taking over the Web after Samsung’s privacy policy for its Smart TV advised consumers to think twice about having those personal conversations around the TV when the voice recognition feature is active.

“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 privacy policy reads.

That statement sent many consumers into a panic.

It certainly isn’t the most privacy-invading device out on the market, but it does seem to be an admission from one of the largest tech giant’s that its TV can and will be eavesdropping on your conversation if you’re not careful.

With that being said, Samsung released a statement to TechCrunch to insist that anyone concerned about the voice recognition technology has nothing to worry about.

Samsung pointed out that consumers can easily deactivate the voice recognition feature and they could also disconnect the Smart TV from their Wi-Fi network.

These two steps would essentially eliminate the TV’s eavesdropping capabilities.

For those who do want to use the voice recognition feature, Samsung claimed that they do 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 requested voice command search,” the statement read. “At that time, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV.”

Some social media users, however, weren’t content with the statement thanks to yet another interesting sentence in the privacy policy — one that some argue is an admittance that there is a possibility that something could go wrong with the attempt to protect consumers’ privacy.

“Samsung is not responsible for these providers’ privacy or security practices,” the policy concludes.

In all fairness, it’s the type of statement that is included in nearly every privacy policy and was included because a team of lawyers thought it was necessary, not because the company genuinely believes that there is a good chance things could go haywire and leave consumers’ private information in the hands of malicious third parties.

Either way, the policy adds more fuel to a quickly spreading conversation that is extremely necessary.

In today’s computer-driven world, everything from our cellphones and tablets to our cars and home thermostats has the ability to essentially spy on consumers.

With so few guidelines and regulations tailored to such new technological advancements, consumers’ fears about what this means for the protection of their privacy are justified.

So as tech giants race to be the first ones to push out new devices with new features, they will still need to take the time to ask themselves what these new features mean for consumer privacy and how can they protect customers.

If not, growing consumer mistrust could lead to an interesting shakeup in the tech space.