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New Samsung TV Watches You Watching It 320

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-watching-who? dept.
CanHasDIY writes "Straight out of 1984, Samsung has unveiled a new series of televisions with integrated cameras and microphones, complete with facial and voice recognition software. Best of all, there appears to be no physical indication of the mic and camera's status, so consumers have no way of knowing when they're being monitored, or by whom... and if you don't find the idea of a TV that watches you creepy enough, apparently Samsung's Terms of Service include a clause allowing third-party apps to make use of the monitoring system, and use the data gathered for their own purposes. Nothing Orwellian about that..."
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New Samsung TV Watches You Watching It

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  • by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:14PM (#39433959) Journal

    Look guys, it's just too easy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In Soviet America, TV watches you.

    • by Nugoo (1794744) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:33PM (#39434189)
      It's not only too easy, it's one of Yakov Smirnoff's actual jokes.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:38PM (#39434239)

      Look guys, it's just too easy.

      'Biker!' screamed the shrewish voice from the telescreen. '1066130 Blind Biker! Yes, you! Post faster, please!'

      A sudden hot sweat had broken out all over Biker's body. His face remained completely inscrutable. Never show dismay! Never show resentment! A single click of the mouse could give you away. He stood watching while the moderator raised her cursor above his post and -- one could not say gracefully, but with remarkable neatness and efficiency -- clicked the +1, Funny button.

      'There, citizens! That's how I want to see you doing it. Watch me again. I've got thirty-nine tabs open and I've got four alts. Now look.' She made another post. 'You see my keyboard isn't crufty. You can all do it if you want to," she added as she clicked on another post. 'Anyone with under forty-five tabs open is perfectly capable of getting a solid first post. We don't all have the privilege of fighting in the front line, but at least we can all keep fit. Remember our boys in the Chans! And the screening bots in the NSA datacenters! Just think what they have to put up with. Now try again. That's better, comrade, that's much better,' she added encouragingly as Biker, with a violent lunge, succeeded in achieving a (+5, Funny) on a first post, for the first time in several years.

      - Anonymous Coward, 2012

    • The hard part is making the Nietzsche jokes.

      • by tqk (413719)

        The hard part is making the Nietzsche jokes.

        There was nothing about Nietzche that was funny. Well, okay, "The Anti-Christ" is pretty much the best send up of Xtianity that I've read so far.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:01PM (#39435193) Journal
      Easy; but actually deeply misleading...

      If there is a lesson of the various socialist surveillance dystopias, it is that unaided state surveillance is too expensive to survive(y hello thar, East Germany) and tends to stifle out of fear the new technologies that would ultimately help it prosper(rather like the MPAA...)

      In good old free world, on the other hand, technological development and the enthusiastic forces of private enterprise produce all the groundwork needed for surveillance and control of the sort that the Evil Empire could only dream of, just waiting to be subpeonaed when needed...
      • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @02:47AM (#39437943)

        it is that unaided state surveillance is too expensive to survive(y hello thar, East Germany) and tends to stifle out of fear the new technologies that would ultimately help it prosper(rather like the MPAA...)

        Couple of things.

        1) Cameras are a lot cheaper now.

        2) East Germans weren't primarily afraid of the Stasi. They were afraid of their own neighbors. The surveillance state successfully co-opted the populace into doing its grunt work for free. That part hasn't changed, and won't, because at the end of the day, people are finks.

        So, yes, unaided state surveillance may be too expensive to be feasible... but it wasn't, and won't, be unaided.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:15PM (#39433969)

    Can't be. I don't recall reading about Apple releasing a television set that watches you while you watch it.

  • Omnipresent surveillance is inevitable, and will change society dramatically. The question what we choose to do with it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I choose to reject it. Not easy, but it can be done.

      • by wierd_w (1375923) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:46PM (#39434329)

        Oh hush. It's very easy.

        50 cent roll of electrical tape. Cut a 3x3cm square using scissors. Place it over the camera aperature.

        1$ bottle of superglue. The watery runny kind that whicks up into paper, and has a long neck applicator. Lay the television temporarily on a soft, cushioned surface face up, say, on the sofa. Into the microphone grill, gently dribble the runny superglue. Leave in this position for 2 to 3 hours for maximal cone set. Return television to the entertainment center, and feel marginally safer.

        The first one is obvious how it works, but the second helps prevent the vibrational movement of the microphone pickup, greatly reducing its sensitivity. Sufficiently glued so that the cone can't move the coil, or the piezo crystal can't be flexed, and you have basically neutered it without opening the system unit.

        These little steps are not hard at all. The hard part is staunchly refusing to buy such an intrusive Little whore of a gadget in the first place, as the powers that be all try like mad to get you to swallow that shit pill, and telescreen sensors become standard features.

        Shit like this is why I refuse to buy stuff like the kinect. While you can unplug the ethernet cable on your console to ensure the thought police and social services don't see you spanking junior on candid camera, (with audio and motion tracking!), the act of buying an obvious spying device and installing it in your home tells fucked up marketing assholes that you want MOAR spying. I don't want to send that message.

        • by EdIII (1114411) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:00PM (#39434521)

          Rejecting bullshit like that is about as easy as rejecting 3D televisions and cable TV. Practically no effort at all....

        • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:01PM (#39434529)

          actually, it's even easier. Leave the entire TV in its box. In the shop.

        • by godel_56 (1287256) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:38PM (#39434947)

          Oh hush. It's very easy.

          50 cent roll of electrical tape. Cut a 3x3cm square using scissors. Place it over the camera aperature.

          1$ bottle of superglue. The watery runny kind that whicks up into paper, and has a long neck applicator. Lay the television temporarily on a soft, cushioned surface face up, say, on the sofa. Into the microphone grill, gently dribble the runny superglue. Leave in this position for 2 to 3 hours for maximal cone set. Return television to the entertainment center, and feel marginally safer.

          >

          Ooops. yo've just invalidated your warranty

          From TFA Samsung says:

          Samsung assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable, in connection with whether any such products or services will be appropriate, functional or supported for the Samsung products or services available in your country.

          and

          Want to read the owner’s manual for your new Samsung TV? This is accomplished by download, as Samsung stopped including printed owner’s manuals at least two years ago. However, before you may download the manual, you must first agree to the following online statement: Samsung assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable, in connection with whether any such products or services will be appropriate, functional or supported for the Samsung products or services available in your country.

          In Australia, not only would these statements not have any legal standing, I suspect one or both may actually be in violation of consumer protection laws.

          • by wierd_w (1375923)

            If the AU govt keeps on the track they are at emulating the US, its only a matter of time before you get stuffed with "binding arbitration", and abusive EULAs like we are, and which consumer protection laws prohibiting such shennanigans only apply to SMALL business.

            As for voiding the warantee.... who said my desire to avoid opening the case was to avoid voiding the warantee? I just wanted to avoid damaging the set on accident, and to minimize aesthetic marring.

            This kind of FUCK YOU mod is on par with a cus

        • by jd2112 (1535857)
          Taping over the camera will work until they introduce an energy saving "feature" that turns off the screen when it doesn't detect anyone watching it.
        • Oh hush. It's very easy.

          50 cent roll of electrical tape. Cut a 3x3cm square using scissors. Place it over the camera aperature.

          1$ bottle of superglue. The watery runny kind that whicks up into paper, and has a long neck applicator. Lay the television temporarily on a soft, cushioned surface face up, say, on the sofa. Into the microphone grill, gently dribble the runny superglue. Leave in this position for 2 to 3 hours for maximal cone set. Return television to the entertainment center, and feel marginally safer.

          The first one is obvious how it works, but the second helps prevent the vibrational movement of the microphone pickup, greatly reducing its sensitivity. Sufficiently glued so that the cone can't move the coil, or the piezo crystal can't be flexed, and you have basically neutered it without opening the system unit.

          These little steps are not hard at all. The hard part is staunchly refusing to buy such an intrusive Little whore of a gadget in the first place, as the powers that be all try like mad to get you to swallow that shit pill, and telescreen sensors become standard features.

          Shit like this is why I refuse to buy stuff like the kinect. While you can unplug the ethernet cable on your console to ensure the thought police and social services don't see you spanking junior on candid camera, (with audio and motion tracking!), the act of buying an obvious spying device and installing it in your home tells fucked up marketing assholes that you want MOAR spying. I don't want to send that message.

          Or... just don't by a Samsung tv maybe? I'm thinking this might be the simpler option.

      • by tqk (413719)

        I choose to reject it. Not easy, but it can be done.

        I just had a vision of Elvis Presley pulling out a gun and shooting his TV. I assume it was a scene from a movie I once saw.

        • Possibly you saw this movie:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYJ5vbSt9K0 [youtube.com]
          Or the itchy and scratchy episode that made a mockery of it.

          It has probably occured numerous times, due to the fact that it was one of Elvis' hobbies:
          http://www.elvisinfonet.com/elvisgoulet.html [elvisinfonet.com]

          My favourite quote on the topic:

          “There was nothing Elvis had against Robert Goulet. They were friends,” Kern said. “But Elvis just shot out things on a random basis.”
          There were no reports Presley hurt anybody with his gun slinging, but he was known to have a fascination with firearms. He converted part of a rear building at the estate into a firing range.

    • by khasim (1285)

      Duh!

      Think of it more like "chat roulette".

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:35PM (#39434201)

      Common response: "If you're not breaking the law, why wouldn't you let the cops search your car? (Or track you with cameras?) (Or record all your internet actions?)" -- It's amazing how easily americans are to give up their freedom to the government tyrants.

    • by billcopc (196330)

      Trivially hack into the data stream and stick it on the web ?

    • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:41PM (#39434987) Homepage

      A related sci-fi book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Light_of_Other_Days [wikipedia.org] "The Light of Other Days is a 2000 science fiction novel written by Stephen Baxter based on a synopsis by Arthur C. Clarke, which explores the development of wormhole technology to the point where information can be passed instantaneously between points in the space-time continuum. ... The novel examines the philosophical issues that arise from the world's population (increasingly suffering from ecological and political disturbances) being aware that they could be under constant observation by anyone, or that they could observe anyone without their knowledge. ..."

      There are a couple other similar sci-fi stories as well, including one about "Slow Glass" by Bob Shaw with the same name as that novel.
      http://strick.net/blog/041103.html [strick.net]

      And one about a similar time viewer (I forget the name).

      A good thing to keep in mind is, just because we can do something, does not mean we should.
      http://lostechies.com/derickbailey/2009/02/11/solid-development-principles-in-motivational-pictures/ [lostechies.com]
      http://lostechies.com/derickbailey/files/2011/03/SingleResponsibilityPrinciple2_71060858.jpg [lostechies.com]

      What kind of word do we want to live in, and what kind of world do we want for our children, and children's children, and so on, for seven or more generations?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_generation_sustainability [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:18PM (#39433993)

    I'd just put duct tape over the lens, or better yet, open the thing up and snip the wires going to the mic and camera(s)
    The warranty would go bye-bye but my privacy doesn't.

  • Max Headroom? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hackwrench (573697) <hackwrench@hotmail.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:19PM (#39434001) Homepage Journal
    What about Max Headroom?
  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:22PM (#39434041)

    .....which were provided to Pennsylvanian teens, and had integrated cameras, but there was no indication to the users that they were being recorded in their bedrooms (by the government).

    • The difference between this and that is that these TVs and the laptops are physically capable of spying but not made to do that. The schools themselves installed software which spied on the kids. These TVs are perfectly fine. However... That doesn't mean they can't be made to be otherwise.

    • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:48PM (#39434349) Homepage

      They were Macs, they had indications. When they were recording, the little green light next to the camera was on.

      The students noticed it. Some of them had reported it, but were told it was nothing and to not worry about it.

    • by Chewbacon (797801)
      Actually, there was a light that came on those laptops. That is what raised suspicion, but the school lied about it with some cover story. As you know, they were later caught.
  • Who watches the watcher watchers?

    • by kat_skan (5219) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:46PM (#39435047)

      It's like this:

      You watch the TV.
      The TV watches you watching the TV.
      Some ad agency flunky watches the TV watching you watch the TV.
      His monitor watches him watch the TV watching you watch the TV.
      His supervisor watches the monitor watching him watch the TV watching you watch the TV.

      Turtles all the way down.

  • by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529@y a h o o . com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:28PM (#39434123)

    1.) rig a secondary/tertiary monitor output on a nearby desktop and wire it to the TV's camera/audio input.
    2.) set the computer output to a nonstop 24/7 loop of "Friday" by Rebecca Black, along with a slide show that alternates between Goatse, 2 girls 1 cup, and horse porn.
    3.) bask in the fact that somwhere, someone is regretting the release of this technology.
    4.) Don't EVER cross the wires from step 1.
    5.) Profit.

  • I hope it takes a page from the Wii and reminds people to stop watching for a while. They could couple it with shots of the consumer looking like a total zombie to convince them to get the heck up and move around for a while.
  • Footage (Score:5, Funny)

    by rampant mac (561036) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:32PM (#39434169)

    I'll go out on a limb here and say:

    This TV is going to end up capturing so much footage of bored men fapping to porn.

  • that netflix-streaming laptop has a camera and mic too. throw in a coupon, offer a free "app" or "show" or something to get their attention. if all else fails just do it anyway. we all know the repercussions for a major multinational conglomerate violating your personal privacy basically amount to a dog and pony show anyhow.
  • problem solved. A John Tesh or Yonni CD is an acceptable substitutes.
  • Yeah, who needs oversight committees for corporations. They never do anything wrong, trust the free market, because you can always buy a TV from a manufacturer who DOESN'T do this, until they all do it because there's so much profit to be made by selling the data. Of course I suppose the free market is still at work here, because people could decide between NOT watching spy-TV or watching it and giving up their privacy, TV isn't a constitutional RIGHT. Hmm... I appear to have confused myself.

  • At least HAL showed a red light.

  • Child porn? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:00PM (#39434523)

    If this thing videos some teenagers screwing, will employees of the company be prosecuted under child porn laws? Will the teenagers be arrested for making child porn?

    • The answers to your questions, in reverse order, are "Yes" and "Only if they're low-level employees; no one above middle management has anything to worry about."

  • I wonder how much they pay people to install these things? I would be willing to put one in a closet or some empty, unused room if they paid me well enough for it. :-|
  • I thought you were buying this thing.
  • Problem solved.

  • DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jquirke (473496) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:09PM (#39435311)

    The television has detected more persons in the room than this content is licensed for.

    Please reduce the number of persons in the room, or press the RED button to authorise a payment of a $X per additional person in the room.

  • Status light? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hantms (2527172) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @12:33AM (#39437325)

    Please explain to me why not having an indicator light is significant. The manufacturer controls how the entire thing is built, so it could also easily build in a function to use the camera but without making any status light come on. As I type this the status light of the camera in my Lenovo laptop is off.. But is the camera off, really?

    Bit of a silly article. If you don't like web cams (or any camera) then just say so. Makes no sense to fully trust Logitech but not Samsung or anyone else.

    Encore for the tinfoilers: every iPhone comes with one or two cameras. And you really don't know about the software that runs it.

    Next.

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