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Samsung loses with Bad PR this week

Bad PR

Eavesdropping Electronics 

If you’re the proud owner of a Samsung Smart TV, you may want to watch what you say in front of the television screen. The technology giant has warned customers against discussing any sensitive or personal information in front of the television, which can be voice activated.

The privacy policy for the Smart TV outlines how users’ spoken words will be “among the data captured and transmitted to a third party” when using the voice-recognition feature. This policy has been branded as “outrageous” by privacy campaigners and I’m sure there’ll be a few paranoid Samsung Smart TV owners out there right about now.

This definitely makes it sound a lot like people can be spied on through their TVs, which is surely going to put a few people off the idea of splashing out on one of Samsung’s Smart TVs, or indeed any other brand that offers voice-recognition features on their sets.

As the TV can effectively listen to what is being said by people in the room when the voice activation feature is switched on, conversations will be picked up so that the device can spot when commands or queries are issued via the remote.

Samsung said that viewers would always be aware if the voice activation feature had been switched on, because a microphone icon would appear on the screen. Something tells me that’s not going to put everyone’s mind at rest though.

A specialist voice-recognition firm called Nuance has been confirmed as the third party handling the translation from speech to text. I wonder if anyone there ever has a right old laugh or a nose at some of the conversations being had. That’s what other people and many Smart TV owners will be thinking too, I’m sure.

Fifth Shades of Grey fans, consider this your warning; if you decide to get up to any risqué role play in your front room after watching the film this weekend, make sure you keep the dirty talk to a minimum if you’re a Samsung Smart TV owner. 

Having its Smart TV’s privacy policy scrutinised in this way isn’t great news for Samsung, especially as the story has travelled pretty far already (BBC, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, Independent and such like). I’ll just stick with my Stupid TV for the foreseeable future, thanks.

Shannon Haigh, 10 Yetis, @ShazzaYeti on Twitter

Seen any good or bad PR recently, you know what to do, @10Yetis on Twitter or on email.

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