Smart TVs are getting smarter. And maybe too smart for our own good.
Originally, smart televisions had the ability to display Internet websites because you could switch to a crude built-in browser. Now they can make recommendations of what you might like to watch, and can even understand voice commands.
Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. 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. [color emphasis added]
So if you enable voice commands, what you say is captured and is sent to a processing company on the Internet. Be sure not to discuss how you plan to cheat the IRS or commit murder when the TV is on, lest your plans become evidence that could be subpoenaed.
And if you’re watching some steamy pay-per-view movies, Samsung may be tracking your viewing based on what functions you have enabled on the TV.
…if you enable the collection of information about video streams viewed on your SmartTV, we may collect that information and additional information about the network, channels, and programs that you view through the SmartTV.
This data collection is supposedly only used to provide you with a better viewing experience, but who knows what really happens to all that data. And if you opt into “SyncPlus,” advertisers are told what you are watching so they can target ads and offers specifically to you.
So this is the future of television… the big screen that you’re watching is also watching (and listening) to you.
After last week’s brouhaha, Samsung clarified its Smart TV policy, saying:
If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some interactive voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service provider (currently, Nuance Communications, Inc.) that converts your interactive voice commands to text and to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. Samsung will collect your interactive voice commands only when you make a specific search request to the Smart TV by clicking the activation button either on the remote control or on your screen and speaking into the microphone on the remote control.
Is that an improvement?
And now Samsung Smart TV owners are complaining that the company is inserting advertisements in the consumer’s own content or content they paid for.