Samsung Updates SmartTV Policy, Names Third Party Collecting Voice Commands

Samsung Smart TV
After growing concern, the company clarifies to customers with whom it’s sharing their voice commands. Rick Wilking/Reuters

A single line in Samsung’s voice-recognizing SmartTV privacy policy sent the media into a frenzy over the past few days. It read: “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.”

But the voice of the virtual mob, concerned that their lives were becoming something out of George Orwell’s 1984, grew so loud that Samsung has issued an update.

The policy now names the third party that currently has access to voice commands when the voice-recognition feature is activated. The policy still points out that customers are given the option to activate or deactivate the voice-recognition feature at any time.

Previously, the policy read:

“If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service that converts speech to text or to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you.”

Today, Samsung issued an update (changes in bold):

“If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some interactive voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service provider (currently, Nuance Communications, Inc.) that converts your interactive voice commands to text and to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you."

The policy goes on to explain that voice commands and the associated texts are used to “evaluate and improve the features” and that Samsung will only collect voice commands “when you make a specific search request to the Smart TV” when the microphone is activated.  

Newsweek reached out to Nuance Communications, Inc., the third party accessing customers’ voice commands, but it did not respond by time of publishing. 

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