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Samsung Is Listening
By: Jennifer Graber
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Smart devices can truly make life easier and simpler. The devices require less human effort and time, and thus free us up to complete other tasks. This is somewhat alarming, but is a discussion for another day. Anyway, the marketplace is saturated with these smart devices. There are cell phones, cars, tablets, computers — you name it, it is there. Smart televisions are a recent addition to the growing list of smart devices. The electronics company Samsung was among the first manufacturers to release a television with smart capabilities.  
Samsung’s smart television employs technological concepts such as voice recognition. The voice recognition is captured through a microphone in either the television set or the remote. This feature helps consumers find particular programs, similar programming, or a number of other “commands that are predetermined.” Sounds great, right? No more searching for a show to record by tediously typing in letters one painstaking button at a time. This is particularly exciting for those shows with impossibly long titles. And who wants to be bothered with changing the channel themselves?
There is more to it than that. With the installation and use of a Samsung smart television, one might become very concerned about their privacy. This is particularly true if a consumer were to read the tech company’s privacy statement regarding its smart televisions. Samsung’s initial privacy statement served as a warning to users to “not discuss sensitive information around their devices because it could be transmitted to a third party.” Reading this statement might cause you to believe that Samsung is listening to you, in your own home, and sending off delicate details to other companies.
It kind of has a "the call is coming from inside the house" feel to it. It makes you want to begin signing and blinking code words around the television. Creepy, right?
Samsung has come back and made an effort to clarify its privacy policy. The company released a special blog post on Tuesday stating that it takes consumer privacy seriously. Samsung also stated that it does not listen in on private conversations that take place in your home. Data is only collected when the voice recognition is activated. Samsung insists the data that is collected, and sent to a third party, is only used to make the features of the smart television work. Even then, only some of the data may be transmitted. Additionally, the data may be used to improve services. But that is what they all say.
What is curiously missing from Samsung’s updated privacy policy is the wording regarding monitoring your conversations such that delicate details are not discussed. The updated policy does not necessarily address it either. It is as if it vanished as quickly as it appeared. However, the company did add in that it uses strict security features, data encryption, and other similar practices. If all else fails, consumers can disable voice recognition on their Samsung smart televisions.
Even tested security features fail. After all, how many companies have fallen prey to hackings this past year? So Samsung’s attempt to reassure and clarify sort of fails. Though the company spells out what data can be collected and when, there is still something missing. It is odd that Samsung choose to completely remove the verbiage about private conversations and not issue a statement about its poor choice of words. This does nothing to soothe the worried consumer mind.
Does this concern you at all? Do these types of things come with the digital territory? Or should we be finding improved ways in which to deal with the evolving technology and privacy?

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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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