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    Samsung warns of 'listening' TV

    This is a discussion on Samsung warns of 'listening' TV within the General chat forums, part of the Community channel category; BBC News - Not in front of the telly: Warning over 'listening' TV Samsung is warning its customers to avoid ...

    1. #1
      gymno's Avatar
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      Samsung warns of 'listening' TV

      BBC News - Not in front of the telly: Warning over 'listening' TV

      Samsung is warning its customers to avoid discussing personal information in front of their smart television set.

      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.

      Data sharing

      The warning came to light via a story in online news magazine the Daily Beast which published an excerpt of a section of Samsung's privacy policy for its net-connected Smart TV sets.

      The policy explains that the TV set will be listening to people in the same room to try to spot when commands are issued. It goes on to warn: "If your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party."

      Corynne McSherry, an intellectual property lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which campaigns on digital rights issues, told the Daily Beast that the third party was probably the company providing speech-to-text conversion for Samsung.
      <snip>

      Samsung is not the first maker of a smart, net-connected TV to run into problems with the data the set collects. In late 2013, a UK IT consultant found his LG TV was gathering information about his viewing habits.

      Publicity about the issue led LG to create a software update which ensured data collection was turned off for those who did not want to share information.


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    3. #2
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      Re: Samsung warns of 'listening' TV

      Anyone with a Samsung Smart TV know which Settings to make to make it more safe?

    4. #3
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      Re: Samsung warns of 'listening' TV

      Further snip.

      It added that it did not retain voice data or sell the audio being captured. Smart-TV owners would always know if voice activation was turned on because a microphone icon would be visible on the screen, it said.
      From that I would think the only way to be sure would be to turn the voice activation Off in the TV settings.

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      Re: Samsung warns of 'listening' TV

      Oh dear...

      Samsung admits its smart TVs are forcing pop-up ads into video apps | Technology | The Guardian
      Samsung admits its smart TVs are forcing pop-up ads into video apps

      South Korean firm acknowledges error that causes adverts to appear in video apps from Plex and Foxtel TV without the app developer’s authorisation

      Samsung has confirmed that its smart TVs are erroneously inserting pop-up video adverts into television and movies played through third-party apps.

      The admission comes in a week that Samsung was forced to change its smart TV privacy policy, which indicated the TV could be recording conversations and sending them to third parties, provoking “Orwellian” complaints from critics.

      Samsung said that it was “currently conducting a full and thorough investigation into the cause as our top priority”.

      Several Samsung smart TV owners took to Reddit to complain that a silent video advert for Pepsi kept appearing in Plex, an app for streaming video from a computer among other sources.

      “I watch most of my TV shows on a Samsung Smart TV and it has been fantastic for the past year. Recently it has been stopping half way through a show or a movie and has played a pepsi ad that is muted,” said user beans90 on Reddit explaining that the adverts do not interrupt viewing on any other platforms, including PC, PlayStation 4 and tablet computers running Plex.

      A Plex spokesperson told GigaOm that the company was not behind the pop up ads.

      Separately, users of Australia’s Foxtel streaming TV service reported a similar issue after having updated the Samsung SmartHub, which allows users to download apps.

      “After about 15 minutes of watching live TV, the screen goes blank, and then a 16:9 sized Pepsi advert (taking up about half the screen) pops up and stops Foxtel playing,” said a users known as darlinghurst on the Foxtel company forums. “It’s as if there is a popup ad on the TV.”

      Other users took to the forums to complain of the same advert interruptions using Samsung smart TVs leading a Foxtel support representative known as Beta_Boy to state: “This absolutely should not be happening and is being escalated immediately.”

      A Samsung spokesperson told the Guardian: “We are aware of a situation that has caused some Smart TV users in Australia to experience programme interruption in the form of an advertisement.”

      “This seems to be caused by an error, and we are currently conducting a full and thorough investigation into the cause as our top priority. This situation has so far been reported only in Australia. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience experienced by our customers.”

      In 2014 it was revealed that Samsung has partnered with Yahoo to create adverts and other “interactive experiences”. These experiences were said to be “opt-in”.

      It appears that an update to the Samsung software powering the smart TVs has enabled the pop-up ads by default.

      The Yahoo-powered service can be disabled by declining the Yahoo privacy policy within the Samsung Smart Hub terms and policy section.

      Samsung is not the only company looking to monetise smart TV platforms with adverts. Panasonic smart TVs display banner ads in some situations and streaming box manufacturer Roku has pursued revenue share agreements with streaming services using its platform.

      Advertising companies including Yahoo and appTV offer solutions for advertisers to place promotions on smart TVs, while smart TVs that log user activity offer the potential for targeted advertising similar to the services internet advertising companies such as Google offer.

    6. #5
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      Re: Samsung warns of 'listening' TV

      BBC News - Samsung's smart TVs fail to encrypt voice commands

      Samsung's smart TVs fail to encrypt voice commands.

      Samsung has acknowledged that some of its smart TV models are uploading their owners' voices to the internet in an unencrypted form.

      The apparent oversight makes it easier for hackers to spy on customers' activities.

      The matter was brought to the public's attention by UK-based cybersecurity experts.

      Samsung told the BBC it planned to release new code that would encrypt the voice commands to protect its users.

      "Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously and our products are designed with privacy in mind," the company said in a statement.

      Reassure consumers
      "Our latest Smart TV models are equipped with data encryption and a software update will soon be available for download on other models."

      The revelation is the latest in a series of PR problems for the South Korean company's smart TV division.

      On 10 February it felt compelled to update its privacy policy after the original language raised concerns that its TVs were recording and transmitting everything said in front of them.

      The blog post that clarified under what limited circumstances voice commands were shared specifically made mention of Samsung's use of "industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption" as part of its efforts to reassure consumers.

      Last week it also said it was investigating why some of its sets were adding adverts to programmes and films where they did not belong.

      'Easy to solve'
      Concerns that Samsung was not always using encryption, as indicated, were raised by Ken Munro and David Lodge, from the London-based Pen Test Partners on Monday.

      During their tests of one of Samsung's older internet-connected TVs, they discovered that it was uploading audio files of their commands to the voice recognition specialist Nuance in an unencrypted form alongside information about the TV, including its MAC address, which could act as an identifier.

      Furthermore, when a transcribed copy of what had been said was sent back to the TVs - allowing the screen to act on the commands - this was also in an unencrypted form.

      This meant that a hacker could read the words off a screen if they managed to hijack the data connection, rather than having to listen to each recording.

      Samsung believes that such hacks would not be easy to achieve, and wants to reassure owners of older sets that they should not be too concerned.

      But Mr Munro said he believed the flaw was serious.

      "Intercepting those communications could be done over wi-fi by neighbours and/or hackers outside your house, if you use the wireless feature of the TV to hook up to the internet," he said.

      "It could also be carried out by your ISP [internet service provider], and by anyone else that has access to internet backbones. I'm thinking governments, law enforcement.

      "This is an easy problem to solve. The communications should be encrypted using SSL [Secure Sockets Layer cryptographic protocols] just like other sensitive internet communications are."

     

     

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