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Is Your Smart TV Listening To Your Personal Conversations?

By March 25, 2016March 6th, 2023Blog, Cybersecurity

is_your_smart_tv_listenin_121320_222829The short answer to the question posed by this article’s title is yes. Yes, your smart TV is listening to your personal conversations. It’s simply a part of the way the technology works. If you spend the money to buy a smart TV, then you’re going to want to use its voice activation features. Unfortunately, the only way to make that work is to allow your voice to be recorded, so the data can be sent to one of the manufacturer’s servers, which provides the software with baselines, so that the TV can begin to recognize the various commands you issue it. One of the side effects of this is, of course, that once the feature is enabled, it’s always on, so anything you say in the general vicinity of your TV will be picked up and sent to the server.

If that sounds Orwellian to you, you’re not alone. In fact, if you compare Samsung’s smart TV privacy policy to the wording of the book 1984, they’re eerily similar. As adoption rates of smart TV technology increase, it raises some important privacy questions. Could one or more law enforcement agencies gain access to these servers? If so, under what circumstances? Is it possible that they’re doing it already?

The answers to these questions matter, because in the United States, the Patriot Act is still in force and in effect, which enables law enforcement officials to, among other things, engage in warrantless wiretapping.

Unfortunately, there’s no way around the issue, except to just say no to smart TV’s. There’s simply no gain in paying a premium for the technology, then disabling it. In the end, it comes down to which you value more: the convenience of voice activation, or keeping your private conversations, private. For almost everyone, the answer to that question is a simple one.

Chris Forte

Chris Forte, President and CEO of Olmec Systems, has been in the MSP workspace for the past 25 years. Chris earned his Master’s Degree from West Virginia University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He was a past member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a current member of the New Jersey Power Partners and Executive Association of New Jersey, where he has previously served on its board of directors. In his spare time, Chris enjoys traveling with his family. He also admits to being a struggling golfer and avid watcher of college football and basketball. He currently lives in Boonton Township, NJ with his wife, two daughters, son, and black lab Luna.