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Samsung Says Their TVs Aren't Really Spying On You 171

Posted by timothy
from the jeesh-you-guys-are-so-paranoid dept.
lightbox32 writes "Samsung has finally responded to an article recently published by HD Guru titled 'Is your TV watching you?' [See this related Slashdot post] which discussed the fact that new features in Samsung's top 2012 models — including built-in microphones, HDTV camera, wireless and wired Internet connection, built-in browser with voice to text conversion, face recognition and more — could be used to collect unprecedented personal information and invade our privacy. Samsung has now provided their privacy policy, which may or may not lay the issue to rest." I vote for "not" — conspiracy theories about mandatory (or just secret) surveillance equipment in consumer electronics is just too persistent, even when the technical capabilities turn out to be a hoax; when the equipment is actually all in place and the user is protected only by a corporate honor policy, it's hard to be sanguine. (I recall there was a much rumored secret capability for law enforcement agencies to secretly and remotely turn on the internal microphones in PCs meeting the PC 97 spec, and this was an integral part of the plan. Since the government insists that telecom equipment have built-in backdoors, why should that sound all that crazy?)
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Samsung Says Their TVs Aren't Really Spying On You

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  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @04:16PM (#39536615)
    Trust in corporate ethics is so incredibly low. Privacy expectations plummet every year. If I was a hardware manufcaturer, I'd fund an independent organization (like Consumer Reports) and say "use this money to investigate which new devices coming out violate consumer privacy, and issue ratings". If we can have Energy Star compliance, why not Privacy Star compliance? If all my tvs had Privacy Star stickers, and my competitors did not, +1 for me and my business.
  • by Genda (560240) <(mariet) (at) (got.net)> on Saturday March 31, 2012 @04:27PM (#39536683) Journal

    For someone to create a personal firewall that prevents unwanted access to your appliances and unwanted data transmission from your appliances. It should be reasonably easy to build such a device, sell it for a reasonable price and let everyone know that they now have complete control over what their appliance does and when. I'd buy one in a minute!

    The only way to prevent oher people from taking inappropriate advantage is to eliminate the opportunity.

  • Re:Paranoid? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by expatriot (903070) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @04:40PM (#39536753)

    I presume that these features are part of the movement toward having TVs contain fully functional computers that can connect to the internet for viewing content or in the future Skyping other locations. That funtionality is in your laptop as well, but we expect it there. Sometimes the laptops spy on people, for example if it is stolen.

    A TV that can transmit is more frightening to some. Perhaps because of 1984, but perhaps because that TV has become a major part of people's reality and has so far only been one way.

    A totalitarian state, or even a demanding employer, could ask us to be available for conversation at any time. "Your choice, but if you have nothing to hide. We are only here to protect you from criminals." etc.

  • It's not a new idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by n5vb (587569) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @05:00PM (#39536877)

    I vote for "not" — conspiracy theories about mandatory (or just secret) surveillance equipment in consumer electronics is just too persistent, even when the technical capabilities turn out to be a hoax; when the equipment is actually all in place and the user is protected only by a corporate honor policy, it's hard to be sanguine.

    Considering that "viewscreens" that allowed The Party to watch people in their homes were an integral part of the story of Nineteen Eighty-Four [wikipedia.org], it's arguable that people who are familiar with that story are probably inclined to at least think briefly about the possibility. (In the book, the "viewscreens" couldn't be turned off, although it's fair to say that most pieces of modern tech aren't exactly ever "off" unless you completely disconnect all sources of power, so this may be 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.)

    Then again, in this age of the almighty corporation, how much is a simple corporate assertion of goodwill really worth?

  • Re:Paranoid? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Frohboy (78614) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @06:42PM (#39537461)

    Perhaps because of 1984, but perhaps because that TV has become a major part of people's reality and has so far only been one way.

    Or because TVs are more likely to be found in bedrooms and other places where people would very much not want to be seen by others. Unlike laptops (which can be closed and/or moved), those TVs are always pointed so that you can see them from the bed. This means that if it has a camera, it can watch you have sex, it can watch you watch porn (which, Slashdot readers notwithstanding, is more likely on a TV than a computer), and (if the angle is wide enough) it can watch you get dressed in the morning.

    A TV in a common room with a camera is potentially acceptable, but making it a standard feature of every TV would be a catastrophically bad idea. There are some places that cameras just do not belong. Like my bathroom.

    While I distlike the idea of TVs in bedrooms (unless you're a college kid whose only private space is the bedroom), I have to strongly disagree with the idea that a TV with a camera (that can watch you without your knowledge) in a common room is even remotely acceptable. Most of the time that I spend interacting with my child is in the living room, with the TV in plain sight, on standby (unless we're watching Sesame Street). I am strongly opposed to the very idea that someone could be watching or listening to what I'm teaching my children. (For what it's worth, I don't have anything to hide, assuming a secular upbringing loosely based on the "golden rule" isn't outlawed anytime soon, but if it were to be outlawed, I wouldn't want my TV ratting me out.)

    To be honest, I would rather have a camera in the bedroom. I don't particularly care about shadowy figures watching me have sex with my wife. (We enjoy it, but we're not especially camera-friendly, and we don't do anything that you couldn't find much more professional "amateurs" doing online.) The values that we instill in our children are personal and way more important than our naked asses.

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