Consumers are outraged by Samsung’s new line of plasmas and HDTVs. The company’s lastest model of televisions offer high-tech features such as a microphone set, a built-in HD camera, and speech recognition software. It also listens and responds to specific voice commands. The software enables Samsung to recognize who is viewing the TV and personalizes each viewer’s experience with the TV accordingly.
While these features may seem amazing and very similar to a computer, some critics are concerned that the company may be spying on its consumers and watching and listening to them without their knowledge nor consent.
One of the most vocal critics has been Gary Merson, owner of the HD guru website. Merson says that because there is no way of disconnecting the camera and microphone, consumers can not be 100% sure that Samsung is not collecting data and passing it on to third parties. Merson said: “What concerns us is the integration of both an active camera and microphone. A Samsung representative tells us you can deactivate the voice feature; however this is done via software, not a hard switch like the one you use to turn a room light on or off.” He continued: “And unlike other TVs, which have cameras and microphones as add-on accessories connected by a single, easily removable USB cable, you can’t just unplug these sensors. During our demo, unless the face recognition learning feature was activated, there was no indication as to whether the camera (such as a red light) and audio mics are on. And as far as the microphone is concerned, there is no way to physically disconnect it or be assured it is not picking up your voice.” Merson also stated that he is concerned about where Samsung stores the data that it collects and how secure it is. The company could be a very easy target for hackers.
When contacted about the set’s privacy features or the company’s policies, Samsung did not respond.
Do you believe Samsung is attempting to spy on consumers?