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

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

    by anglico ( 1232406 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @05:24PM (#39536667)

    "Should the TV owner choose not to use these features, the camera and microphone can be disabled. Users can check if the camera and microphone are activated from the TV’s settings menu. As an added precaution, the camera can be rotated and tucked into the bezel of the TV. Once tucked away, the camera only captures a black image."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2012 @05:32PM (#39536695)

    They did confirm that an earlier line of their toasters might continue laughing at customers until the firmware was upgraded.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2012 @07:06PM (#39537243)

    This is why we need open source software. We are wasting our time with speculation if we could just look at the code.

    Please load your brains before you shoot your mouth off! [] But then again this is slashdot. Samsung does compete with Apple for the hearts and minds of non tech savy consumers most of which have no clue about the Busy-box and OSS and the Linux kernel which makes all this home tv tech possible.
    Samsung does provide the source. Read the eulas. If you do hack it and run a modded firmware you do so at your own peril. Some of the stuff that they do is interesting and can be hacked. I am sure that if they were to hide calls to enable camera and microphone function remotely from the net it will be discovered. But I cannot see them being that stupid.

    Just wish some of the smart people that actually read and write code would post what they find out about the java binaries that Samsung uses. I am sure that their functionality can easily be observed in an emulator, so if it is possible for some Russian mafia hackers to watch you make out by activating your camera remotely then someone will find out, until this actually occurs..please stop posting crap about how all corporations except for Apple are evil!

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @07:25PM (#39537353) Journal

    This is why we need open source software. We are wasting our time with speculation if we could just look at the code.

    This is by far the lamest and most impractical meme slashdot has created to date. Have you looked at the size and complexity of any popular OSS application/library? A cleverly hidden back door could take you an eternity to find, and that's when you already understand the design (or lack thereof). Not only that, but you then have to build it to verify the binaries on the machine are the same as what you built from the source. When all is said and done and you have complete trust in the software you then run it on chips provided by the same company you don't trust.

    There is no surefire way to determine if these kind of devices (and the companies that supply them) are trustworthy, just as there is no surefire way to determine if a person is trustworthy. Trust is subjective, all anyone can really do is examine their reputation and track record, and perform random spot checks. Sure you can do more than spot check, you could sniff every transaction on the wire. But just as you can never be absoluely certain there are no bugs, you also can never be absoluely certain there are no back doors.

    Financial institutions primarily catch internal "cyber-thieves" by auditing the information trail they alter, not by reviewing the code they alter.

  • by doston ( 2372830 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @07:53PM (#39537513)

    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.

    Not to put too fine a point on this, but what you seem to be implying is that industry can regulate itself. I think the Banking sector, Oil industry, Pharma, Agriculture all prove that industry (the market, corporations...whatever you want to call it) cannot regulate itself. The reason for the success, which your post either deliberately or naively ignores, is that Energy Star was created by the EPA and the Department of Energy during the Clinton administration. What corporations are real good at is rolling back regulation...see the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act, which the banks worked to repeal for years, finally got their way, then began engaging in reckless behavior. Not to bash your post, be everyone is so indoctrinated that Goverment=bad, Corporations=good. Most what's left of the good life, the masses owe to organizing, unions, federal regulations and the court decisions of some "liberal activist" judges that they're supposed to hate now. Your plan sounds great, but don't forget who's going to have to implement it...Your Government.

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

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @11:17PM (#39538471)

    You misunderstand. I'm not saying that the government wants free porn. I'm saying that as soon as the cameras are there, your love life is only a quick hack away from people who do.

    Indeed. There are webcams all over the net that people have put in their houses as "more effective" baby monitors and such.

    And they are wide open to the internet.

    Are you bored? []

    Trendnet cameras. Wide open to the world. And so is your life.


"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva