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Samsung warns smart TVs sell private conversations to advertisers

Samsung is warning customers to avoid discussing personal information in front of their smart television set, explaining how its voice recognition system will not only capture private conversations, but also sell them onto third parties.

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The warning applies to TV viewers who control their Samsung Smart TV using its voice activation feature.

Such TV sets 'listen' to every conversation held in front of them and may share any details they hear with Samsung or third parties, it said.

Privacy campaigners said the technology smacked of the ‘telescreens’ in George Orwell's 1984, which spied on citizens for the state.

The wording, first spotted by the Daily Beast, first informs you that the company may "capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features."

According to Samsung's own terms and conditions for its smart TVs, your television may be inadvertently selling private and personal information to third-parties (advertisers) without your knowledge.

This is the relevant extract from Samsung's terms and conditions:

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 through your use of Voice Recognition.

Samsung's voice recognition feature can be used for TV commands or search sentences only, and when switched on, a small microphone icon is visible on the screen to let users know that Samsung is listening.

This is almost understandable. It's a little like every single customer service call, supposedly recorded to make your next customer service call far, far more enjoyable.

However, the following words border on the numbing: "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 through your use of Voice Recognition."

The third-party handling the translation from speech to text has not been named.

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