Business Technology

Thursday 19 April 2018

Samsung Smart TVs 'inserting ads' into video apps

Executive VP of Samsung Electronics America Joe Stinziano unveils the new Samsung S'UHD smart TV at a Samsung Electronics news conference during the 2015 CES in Las Vegas. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Executive VP of Samsung Electronics America Joe Stinziano unveils the new Samsung S'UHD smart TV at a Samsung Electronics news conference during the 2015 CES in Las Vegas. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Could your TV be spying on you?

Sophie Curtis

Users of Samsung's Smart TVs are complaining that advertisements are being inserted into their own locally-stored programmes and films without their permission.

In a post on the Reddit community website, several Australian users of the Plex app on Samsung Smart TVs reported their viewing had been interrupted half way through by a Pepsi video ad.

“Every movie I play, 20-30 minutes in it plays the Pepsi ad, no audio but crisp clear ad. It has happened on 6 movies today,” one reddit user wrote.

Plex is a third-party app that enables users to play films that are stored on a computer or a Network Attached Storage device on their Samsung Smart TV.

Initially users were blaming Plex for inserting the ads, but the company denied its involvement. Users of other Samsung Smart TV apps, like Australia's Foxtel TV app, also reported the problem.

In a statement sent to The Telegraph, a Samsung spokesperson said that the ad placement in third-party apps was a mistake, and that the issue only affected customers in Australia.

"We are aware of a situation that has caused some Smart TV users in Australia to experience programme interruption in the form of an advertisement," Samsung said.

"This seems to be caused by an error, and we are currently conducting a full and thorough investigation into the cause as our top priority. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience experienced by our customers."

The news comes as Samsung is attempting to quash fears that its Smart TVs are eavesdropping on viewers in the privacy of their own homes.

Earlier this week, the company came under fire after it emerged that its privacy policy allows spoken words including "personal or other sensitive information" to be "captured and transmitted to a third party".

The company said in a statement that its voice recognition feature, which allows the user to control the TV using voice commands, can be activated or deactivated by the user, and does not passively record conversations.

It stressed that users have to press the mic button on the remote to ask a question – just like on a smartphone – and the voice data consists of TV commands or search sentences only.

"If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third party during a requested voice command search to execute the command," the company said.

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."

Telegraph.co.uk

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