Flickr/SamsungTomorrow (CC-BY-NC-SA)

A startlingly vigilant new television by Samsung, the SmartTV, monitors what people say through a voice activation feature and, as it’s handily interfacing with the Internet, might just share that information with third parties.

So yes — essentially, it’s eavesdropping, although it’s not that its corporate sponsor doesn’t warn consumers. A recent report by The Daily Beast about this nosy piece of entertainment equipment looked into Samsung’s privacy policy, which 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.”

The BBC reported that once the story gained traction:

… an activist for the EFF circulated the policy statement on Twitter comparing it to George Orwell’s description of the telescreens in his novel 1984 that listen to what people say in their homes.

In response to the widespread sharing of its policy statement, Samsung has issued a statement to clarify how voice activation works. It emphasised that the voice recognition feature is activated using the TV’s remote control.

It said the privacy policy was an attempt to be transparent with owners in order to help them make informed choices about whether to use some features on its Smart TV sets, adding that it took consumer privacy “very seriously.”

So, as long as SmartTV owners remember to deactivate that component every single time, then no problem. Or they might just think up some creative messages they could relay to Samsung and other third parties through this innovative feature. Just a suggestion.

— Posted by Donald Kaufman.

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