In early February, the Internet came alive with news of spying televisions, namely, the Samsung SmartTV. To streamline the user experience, the television is built with a voice activation feature that responds to spoken commands. Many owners were alarmed to learn that their televisions might also be capturing and storing conversations and other verbal fragments.
Even more alarming is the video function of the Samsung SmartTV. Each model is equipped with a built-in camera capable of facial recognition. Although the designated purpose seems to increase security by replacing a password, many analysts worry about the potential consequences. A device that has the power to recognize voices and faces can capture an alarming amount of personal information, all without users' awareness.
For many users, the idea of spying televisions raises Big Brother-style concerns and the presence of artificial intelligence in contemporary society. After all, the policy for the Samsung SmartTV also warns owners that their television may transmit information to third-party providers of apps and video content. What's worse, as soon as user connects to an app, Samsung does not accept liability for the app's use of transmitted data.
Users who are concerned about privacy can opt out of the Samsung SmartTV voice recognition and face recognition features. According to Samsung, the process is as simple as deactivating each feature or disconnecting the device from the Internet. In the process, however, device owners lose access to many of the features that makes the television "smart." Since voice recognition only kicks in when a button is pressed on the remote control, users also have the option of ceasing other conversations when using the feature.
In the aftermath of the Samsung SmartTV, many users are paying more attention to the power of their everyday devices. While televisions are unlikely to be actively spying on their owners, users can increase data security with awareness and common-sense precautions.
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