A consumer watchdog group is asking for a federal probe into Samsung Electronics' SmartTV technology that records and stores fragments of customers' conversations. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and find out exactly what kind information SmartTVs collect.
“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of voice recognition,” the policy stated. Samsung, after the privacy outcry, updated the policy to say voice recognition is only activated with a button, though the company never removed the sentence that's caused so much concern.
EPIC accused Samsung of violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which outlines what kind of information can be collected about children under 13, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which regulates the collection of personal communication.
“Consumers will have no idea what the practical consequence will be of activating voice recognition,” Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of EPIC, told the New York Times. “The key point is that Samsung is not just recording voice commands to operate the TV, as many would expect. The company is capturing all voice communications, including conversations between people in the room.”