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Samsung plays down ‘Big Brother’ fears

The revelation earlier this week that Samsung Smart TV’s are recording their conversations and could transmit the messages to “third parties” sent many people into a spin. This is because many of the latest Smart TV’s have microphones so viewers can change channel, put on a DVD, even browse the internet by voice command. Of course in the small print it does warn users that general conversation are being recorded and companies are advising customers to avoid, what are described as “personal” conversations.

However one company which is at the forefront of Smart TV’s Samsung, has attempted to reassure customers that its voice recognition feature, can be either activated or deactivated by the user and they state that it does not passively record conversations. Users have to press the mic button on the remote control to give a command or ask a question, very similar in the way that a smartphone works.

This has not satisfied some people though and a particular one, Emma Carr the director of Big Brother Watch campaign group commented, that few people would expect a TV to intrude on our privacy, yet this is increasingly becoming the case. The news has certainly led people to draw comparisons with the famous novel and TV programme 1984, written by George Orwell, this depicted Winston Smith, the protagonist’s movements and words on a tele screen.

Samsung are completely unrepentant and issued a statement saying “Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously and our products are designed with privacy in mind, we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorised collection or use.”

All the same, we would suggest that users of Smart TV’s are very careful to ensure that if they use voice commands, they make sure the microphone is turned off after use.

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