Samsung Dispels Spying Fears Ahead of Ultra-Smart TV Launch

On the eve of unveiling its groundbreaking 2015 range of TVs, complete with several NZ exclusives, to about 1400 retailers and media, including yours truly, at a Pacific-Asia forum in Bangkok, Samsung says fears of its Smart TVs spying on viewers are “groundless”.

“There is no foundation to claims their Smart TV is recording users’ conversations without consent,” reads the company’s official response to concerns about Samsung’s Smart TV voice recognition feature and a clause in Samsung’s Smart TV privacy policy.

Voice recognition allows users choose to control the TV with optional voice commands and can be switched on or off. “The claims made by overseas tech news media that Samsung is transmitting collected voice data to a third party to ‘sell ads’ and that ‘users’ conversations are recorded without their knowledge, are completely groundless,” Samsung says.

It points out users can activate or deactivate the voice recognition, will know when it’s on because a microphone icon appears on the screen, and can only be enabled only when users agree to the separate Samsung Privacy Policy and Terms of Use regarding this function when initially setting up the TV.

“If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is only given to a third party voice-to-text conversion provider during a requested voice command search. (Data is not sent to a third party during simple TV control commands such as ‘channel up’ or ‘channel down’).

“At that time, the voice data is sent to a server which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV.

“Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously. Samsung employs industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorised collection or use.”

Samsung will be hoping for better tech coverage at its Bangkok forum, when retailers and media in this part of the world will see the SUHD models it unveiled at CES in January.

This new range of quantum dot Ultra High Definition TVs has energy-efficient semiconductors that transmit different colours of light, depending on their size, to produce what Samsung dubs “the highest colour purity and light efficiency available today, and even better and clearer than any Samsung TV on the market today”.

Exclusive to its NZ models will be a rugby mode that splits the screen to watch both live coverage and key highlights that it automatically records.

The mode also pauses, slows and zooms, creates a more stadium-like experience and analyses action from the game, with the emphasis on commentary and the scoreboard.

Other Samsung NZ exclusives will include two digital terrestrial connections, for recording one channel to an external storage device while watching another, and new app partners Netflix and a PGA offer from Coliseum Sports Media in NZ.

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