Samsung’s Smart TV voice recognition works just like the voice recognition on your Android or iPhone – with one big difference and CNN is reporting on this today.
On all of these devices, the device captures your voice, sends it over the internet and gets the text back the same way.
It is not clear whether any of these vendors encrypt the traffic, but if I were taking bets, I would bet that it is not.
Samsung uses a third party – whom they have not named – to do the conversion. It is unknown whether Apple and Google outsource it or do it internally.
Here is the difference. On your phone, you tell it when you want it to perform speech to text conversion – you press the microphone icon or ask Siri.
Because the television never knows when you are going to ask it to change the channel or find a new program, it is always listening.
So, if you are plotting to rob a bank, maybe you should not do it in front of your smart TV.
What is not clear is whether something occurred to bring this to the forefront today.
Samsung claims they neither sell the data nor keep it. They did not answer the question as to whether the third party keeps the data.
Your first inclination after reading this is to turn off the voice recognition feature. Go ahead. Of course, if you do that then you can’t yell at your TV to change the channel – you will have to do it the old fashioned way and use the remote. If you do turn it off, the TV listens anyway because there are some features that work even if general voice recognition is off and it sends that data, but not your voice, to Samsung for statistical analysis in addition.
We already know, courtesy of Edward Snowden, that the NSA looks at any data that the hackers hack that they can get their hands on. Why do all that work. Just steal it from the thieves.
I wonder if the NSA is listening to your smart TV? If they weren’t before, I bet the are now.
A wire cutters to the microphone wire likely will work, however.