Be Warned, Samsung Smart TVs Can "Listen" to Your Living Room Chatter

Samsung says "personal or other sensitive information" can be captured via voice-search, but claims it's nothing to worry about.

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Electronics giant Samsung has acknowledged that its line of Internet-connected Smart TVs are capable of capturing chatter in the living room, though the company claims there is nothing to worry about.

First discovered by The Daily Beast was a line from Samsung's privacy policy that warns users that the TV's voice-command feature is capable of capturing basically everything you say.

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“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," it states.

For its part, Samsung says it's capturing voice commands, along with text inputs, so that it can "evaluate and improve" the experience overall. This is not unlike the way in which customer service calls are often recorded with the hope of doing better next time. What's more, the "third-party" referenced here is likely a speech-to-text company; this is not unlike how other voice-enabled search systems work.

Of course, you can switch off voice recognition, but Samsung notes that its Smart TVs will still capture your text-based inputs. If you want to go even further and ensure there is no chance your data is captured, you can always disconnect your TV from the network.

Samsung said in a statement that it takes seriously consumer privacy, adding that it encrypts all captured data to ensure it's not compromised.

"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," the company said to GameSpot sister site CNET.

The spokesperson went on to say that anytime the Samsung Smart TV voice recognition software is running, users will see a microphone icon on the screen.

Regarding the "third-parties" mentioned above, Samsung outlined the situation thusly:

"Samsung 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 requested voice command search. 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."

CNET editor Chris Matyszczyk argues that privacy policies such as Samsung's are only going to become more commonplace as new devices lean more heavily on broadband services.

"We have all agreed to this. We click on 'I agree' with no thought of consequences, only of our convenience," he writes. "It isn't just your TV that will listen and record. Soon, it'll be everything that has a digital connection. This is our digital bed. We lie in it willingly."

Concerns over Samsung's Smart TV line being able to "listen in" on living room conversations are not unlike issues some raised regarding the potential for Xbox's Kinect to do the same. However, Microsoft has time and again stressed that data captured by the Xbox Kinect camera does not leave the console.

Leaked documents from former NSA insider Edward Snowden in February 2014 revealed that a British spy agency contemplated using Kinect camera for surveillance, though it's unclear if any snooping ever actually took place.

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Avatar image for DWalker131

and 'gogglebox' was born !! lol

Avatar image for matthewcarraso

Wont be getting my money Samsung.

Avatar image for RobsGame

if it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all.

Avatar image for jasspur

What might that text-to-speech company's policy be? We're have speech recognition at first, so why do we need a company to covert that text back to speech? Do they like to hear the crisp voice of Microsoft Sam to narrate the sexual noises between couples in their home?

Avatar image for flyincloud1116

So it's like the x1, okay.

Avatar image for surrealme

I have no problem with a tv or console having an active mic listening for voice commands but only so long as I know that audio stream is not stored or transmitted in any way for any reason. If it can't be processed locally and dumped in real time it shouldn't be there at all.

Avatar image for Blitzer9999GT

Yeah, ill stick to Vizio for now.

Avatar image for Evil_Sidekick

Let me write that down on my "not to buy" list

Samsung Smart TV....check

Avatar image for Latebloomer9

This is nothing to be apathetic about esp. with all the hacking and Govt. trying to gather more & more information on us. The good people who do have things to hide (like govt/fed. whistleblowers who we DO want to come forward) can be harmed by this privacy invasion even if you don't care about your living room.


Avatar image for oroelf

I'm sure there's nothing to worry about here, just like there was nothing to worry about people putting private photos and stuff on iCloud.

Avatar image for binarylad

Big brother is watching.

Avatar image for m_booth_528

Don't know what the fuss is all about.
If samsung want to listen to me telling my son to do his homework or ask my wife if we need any milk or bread from the shop or are interested in the latest antics of my neighbours down the road and how many times more will it be before the council finally kick them out.. I don't care.. seriously.. you'd think they were snooping your underwear or accessing your bank details from the way people are reacting on here.

Avatar image for Latebloomer9

<< LINK REMOVED >> Oh, the old "I have nothing to hide" so invasive privacy encroachment is just fine. What happens when it becomes the normal standard and you don't want people invading your privacy then? It's the bigger picture that should concern you and all of us.

Apathy is probably the most dangerous attitude for this country at this point

Avatar image for deathstream


Sorry, but this kind of thing is just wrong. If you want to close your eyes and pretend that it isn't creepy, that is your prerogative but others are free to disagree.

Avatar image for m_booth_528

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> hahaha look mate, only stupid people need a smart tv.. just like they need a smart partner or a smart friend. Clearly you have none of the above. If you want to live in a paranoid world of b/s that's your choice.. but it certainly isn't mine.

Avatar image for Shin_Gallon

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> "Smart people should only marry idiots", got it.

Avatar image for deathstream

I was going to make a joke about Samsung listening for the word "iPhone" so they know which features to copy, but this story is simply terrifying.

Avatar image for nothingformoney

NSA confirmed

Avatar image for DWalker131

just voice record ? what a shame, i was soooo looking forward to the webcam and security camera, infared and mind reading devices gonna be embeded into the tv so they can see us all around the house, hear what we're talking about and even read our thoughts 24/7 lol

Avatar image for Latebloomer9

<< LINK REMOVED >> Oh that'll be next . . they take baby steps with type of crap... you get desensitized & steeped into it over time so you get used to it when "nothing bad happens" to you so it's not such a bad thing.

Avatar image for spikepigeo

One thing people like to forget, with all of this "living room spying" hullabaloo, is that NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU.

You're not interesting.

Companies don't want to know what you had for breakfast.

... or who you banged last night.

Neither does the government.

Quit acting like we are all actually worth companies' and the government's time.

They don't listen to your words. They listen to your money. Period.

Avatar image for Latebloomer9

<< LINK REMOVED >> Another "I have nothing to hide" fool. Try looking at the entire forest instead of that little tree stump in front of your face.

Avatar image for oroelf

<< LINK REMOVED >> You should play Watch Dogs. I could totally see the scenario happening.

Avatar image for deathstream

<< LINK REMOVED >> Did you read the article?

Avatar image for immortaltech6

<< LINK REMOVED >> You are hereby awarded the Completely-Missing-The-Point trophy.

Avatar image for syndicateempire

hehe so the real NSA spy is samsung

Avatar image for ECH71

Frowny face

Avatar image for hystavito

I saw this on the news today and it sounds like Samsung is really handling this poorly :).

Avatar image for m_booth_528

<< LINK REMOVED >> hahaha.. what do you expect, they employ the poorest countries to do their customer service and tech support, do you think their customer relations teams are any better paid?

Avatar image for DrunkenPunk800

Nope. I'm not some tinfoil head, but I like to keep my private conversations private. I unplug my webcam and mic when not in use. Nobody has the right to listen to what I say in my own house without a warrant. Period.

Avatar image for Zloth2

Yyyeaaah, bad plan guys. You needed to interpret the speech on the TV then send the request to the third party. If I'm even finding this intrusive then the Europeans are going to be pouring boiling oil on your shipping crates.

Avatar image for Lazerith91

Great, yet another invention for the government to keep tabs on the citizens. Like we don't have enough of those by now. What I got out of this spokesperson is "You are all ready being spied on so suck it up and deal with it".

Avatar image for oflow

Unless you are in a terrorist sleeper cell its not the NSA you have to worry about. Its advertisers. The entire premise behind this tech is so it can be used to gain info from you to show you more ads. The revenue model of the internet is based on selling ads.

Just like last night where John Oliver talked about how Big Pharma companies track and sell the info on all the medicine you use in real time. Grocery stores have been tracking your purchases and selling the info since they started using barcode scanners in what the 80s? Cell phones have been doing it since at least 2011.

What this really is a reflection of is that wonton consumerism is probably unhealthy for us and it only gets worse as social media actually bleeds into every aspect of our lives. Status and narcissism have taken over the internet. Everything is based on likes/followers and this is because clicks sell ads. People now associate followers with value which isnt necessarily a good thing. It can be used to trigger emotional response as well as influence things like self image.

If theres something nefarious in this its that not the government spying on you.

Avatar image for m_booth_528

<< LINK REMOVED >> Don't see whats wrong with that.. do you prefer to watch rubbish on tv about stuff you don't want to buy or would you actually like to see something that you have an interest in after 5 minutes of watching a movie..? If they advertise porn on my tv during the afternoon, I'll be perfectly happy with that. And on the plus side, the neighbours wont ever come over again.

If I got to choose my adverts, they'd be motoring holidays, car gaming, cars, porn, beer, cigarettes and motoring diy adverts.. instead I get insurance, insurance, shopping, insurance, female wares, insurance.. I think it's a kinda good thing if someone listened to me and took notes.

Avatar image for hitomo

<< LINK REMOVED >> so its okay when the goverment guy faps to pics of ur wife and children and not some random corporate spy?

Avatar image for deathstream



The point is that what people went nuts about the government for doing for a legitimate purpose, even if the method itself was not legitimate, is far less than what Google and Facebook do every day for profit.

Avatar image for gargungulunk


Solid points, advertising will be there every step of the way. ..."likes" & subscriptions are a form of human-stock market. It's an interesting commodity.

These smart-ads...funny thing is, I wouldn't really care too much if there wasn't some god-awful amount of money being pulled in. Or then just ads in general, I hate those random top-10 lists, where every number is on a different page.

With this smart-TV, it makes me wonder, when someone in the room is talking about getting pizza, how many pizza ads will be shown at the next commercial break...and how much will Pizza Hut pay, to enlist a first ad over their competitors.

Avatar image for AndrewLB

What's scary about this is how the recorded audio picked up by the mic is sent to a third party company, which makes it completely legal for the Federal Government to monitor WITHOUT any type of warrant. Had Samsung/LG/etc kept that data on their own networks, the Feds would have had to obtain a warrant to spy on you.

Never relinquish your 2nd amendment rights people...

"Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty." -John Basil Barnhill 1914

Avatar image for m_booth_528

<< LINK REMOVED >> and where the people hide from their elected government.. you have criminals.

Avatar image for Zloth2

<< LINK REMOVED >> !? Assuming you're talking about the USA, I think you mean the 4th amendment.

Avatar image for oflow

<< LINK REMOVED >> didnt the Patriot Act do this without even having to use a third party?

Avatar image for Vodoo

STOP telling us what the guy said and then posting his direct quote. I don't need to read the same thing twice. It happens like 6 times in this article .

Avatar image for gargungulunk

I'm too old for this.

I don't need my TV to get to know me.

Laying in a "digital bed" does seem like a neat premise for a sci-fi movie's just a matter of time,

until we can get in-line, instead of on-line.

Avatar image for deth420

its the "industry standards" that bothers me. clearly the industries "standards" are not that great, hence all the hacking and theft. if you really want to sell it start with, "we are WAY above the industry standard"

Avatar image for m_booth_528

<< LINK REMOVED >> yep, industry standard merely means, they have something written down somewhere. Likely on a pc designed 20 years ago connected to a network built by a picnic (Problem In Chair Not In Computer) It only indicates they have cutting edge protection and tech working for them.. not that they actually do.

Avatar image for grenadehh

Are we going to cry about this again like the Kinect as if the technology went away?

Who buys a smart tv anyway? There's no point until they force you to. Vote with your wallet and shut up.

Avatar image for deth420

<< LINK REMOVED >> i was 60 in, for $600.