Samsung policy reveals privacy issue for owners

Big Brother is watching you...


An article for The Daily Beast recently revealed an intrusion of privacy issue Samsung television owners may face. The TVs, the report discovered, collect information through a voice command feature, and they sometimes hear more than users may want them to hear.

Somewhere buried deep within the privacy policy for Samsung’s SmartTV, a single sentence reveals a scary feature of the Internet-connected TVs. A voice command feature within comes with a disclaimer: “if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party,” the policy stated.

The voice command feature is convenient enough. It requires fewer physical technologies (remote) and is more efficient than pressing 12 different buttons.

The plot of George Orwell’s dystopian, heavily surveyed “1984” creates a world to the Samsung policy would fit frighteningly well in: “Any sound… would be picked up by (the telescreen)… There was no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment,” the novel states.

But arguably most consumers are aware of such surveillance. It is common knowledge that cell phones and computers can be tapped, by the government in particular, at any time without the user’s knowledge.

Androids and iPhones possess voice processing features, both of which can be set to activate by using a specific phrase—“Hey Siri” for iPhones and “OK Google” for Androids—and are constantly collecting data. Facebook can turn on a smartphone’s microphone when the application is open. Gmail monitors and targets advertising to what a user types.

But we know this. We may be visually unaware, but with enough cases of the media “exposing” the ways technology watches us, we know, somewhere we are being watched.

At this point in the 21st century visibility is something Internet users just have to accept. We should not, however, have to endure not knowing what information is collected or who is doing the collecting.

Samsung, after the reveal of their sketchy policy, has since amended its wording to make it more clear that it can be disabled by the user.

But without knowing where the information is going, who is collecting it or where it goes after it is collected, how can it be called a privacy policy at all?

We may grow accustomed to being watched at all times, but as a free nation, we should never have our expression and privacy violated without full knowledge of what is being taken and where it is going.