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Samsung Smart TV Voice Recognition Saga


Samsung has recently beamed in the spotlight again, regarding how its voice recognition software on its Smart TVs do. Today’s issue is not the first to happen; Samsung has been criticised before on how they handled customers’ voice data. It seems this time, the mainstream media has taken wind of it through the not-so-mainstream media, and made it popular again. And social media.

Samsung Smart TV Voice Recognition Data Policy

The above photo was what set off the commotion, with users on Twitter and Facebook commenting about how ridiculous this was.

This is not new. However, the most alarming sentences in the policy is highlighted above. What makes it alarming is that it doesn’t make mention if the voice data is only captured when voice recognition is activated. It is presumed that of course, but we may never know.

In response to the events, Samsung has released a press release today, confirming to customers that they do not record voices unless it has been told to i.e when you press the voice feature on the remote.

Firstly, it’s important to note that a Samsung Smart TV user is given a choice to activate or deactivate the voice recognition.

Secondly, users can easily recognise if the voice recognition feature is activated because a microphone icon appears on the screen when consumers enable the voice recognition capability.

It also reiterated multiple times that it “takes its consumers’ privacy extremely seriously and at all times aims to be as transparent as possible with regard to privacy policies.”

The only controversial paragraph is this:

Voice recognition is enabled only when users agree to the separate Samsung Privacy Policy and Terms of Use regarding this function when initially setting up the TV.

This is basically what fueled the saga. Privacy policies could mean anything. Just because a company has a privacy policy does not mean that they will not be sharing information with third-parties.

It goes on to say:

If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is only given to a third party voice-to-text conversion provider during a requested voice command search. (Data is not sent to a third party during simple TV control commands such as ‘channel up’ or ‘channel down’). 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.

Hopefully, that has cleared things up for consumers. You know, Smart TVs aren’t the first smart devices to have microphones; smart phones have them too believe it or not!