Samsung TV ‘eavesdrops’ on viewers

Kim Hyun-seok, head of Samsung Electronics' television division, poses for photographs with a Samsung Electronics S'UHD smart TV during its launch event

Technology giant Samsung has warned customers against discussing personal or sensitive information in front of its voice-activated televisions.

The privacy policy for the company’s Smart TV sets advises users of the voice recognition feature that their spoken words will be “among the data captured and transmitted to a third party”.

Privacy campaigners have branded the policy “outrageous” and made comparisons to George Orwell’s telescreens, which spied on citizens in his novel 1984.

Samsung’s policy states: “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 need to understand that not everyone wants to be spied on by their TV,” said Emma Carr, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch.


“It is outrageous that the company has even stated that if the TV’s owner decides not to share their information, then the company may still take the information anyway.

“Few people would expect a TV to intrude on our privacy, yet this is increasingly becoming the case .”

Samsung has insisted it takes customer privacy “very seriously” and any gathering of users’ information is carried out with the “utmost transparency”.

A spokeswoman said: “Should consumers enable the voice recognition capability, 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. 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.”