Is Your TV Spying On You?

If you have a Samsung SmartTV the answer is, well, it very well could be. The news broke that Samsung has a TV that can listen in to your conversations, record them and then upload the information to servers under their control. Then your data could be farmed out to third party companies. I’m guessing that these third parties are advertising and marketing outfits but, that isn’t clearly articulated.

This gets even stranger when you consider that Samsung SmartTV’s can also do facial recognition. “You can use facial recognition instead of, or as a supplementary security measure in addition to, manually inputting your password.”

OK, so these TVs can listen to me, record my conversations and then associate these conversations with the very person in the discussion?

Nothing creepy about that at all.

From the Samsung privacy policy:

Please note that when you watch a video or access applications or content provided by a third-party, that provider may collect or receive information about your SmartTV (e.g., its IP address and device identifiers), the requested transaction (e.g., your request to buy or rent the video), and your use of the application or service. Samsung is not responsible for these providers’ privacy or security practices. You should exercise caution and review the privacy statements applicable to the third-party websites and services you use.

OK, so if you use any service on these TVs Samsung washes their hands of any responsibility when it comes to the privacy and security of your data. Got it. Now I fully understand that this is a matter of convenience as this is a product that is trying to provide the maximum user experience to the owner.

Now, all kidding aside I think I need to buy one of these TVs. Why? Well, a nice new 50” screen would look great in my living room and I would LOVE to do some security research on one. If this type of data can be collected, I have to wonder if there is a web interface or some API that can be queried. If these TVs has the ability to know who is in the room and record the conversation what is to say that they can’t also be turned on their heads and used as remote listening devices?

Sound far fetched? I don’t believe that it is to be honest. The Internet of Things is weaving tis way into every aspect of our lives. With the rush to get products to market as fast as is possible things like security and privacy can often be sacrificed.