Samsung TVs don’t spy.

SAMSUNG insist smart TVs are not listening to our conversations at home.

The television makers have issued a clarification after a privacy policy warning said viewers’ comments may be transmitted to a third party.

Alarm over the technology has grown, especially in Ireland where more than half the smart TVs sold are made by Samsung.

And it has emerged the third party the information is sent to – Nuance Communications Inc – has an office in Ireland.

The Irish firm, with its office in Ballsbridge, has four directors, three of whom are listed against foreign address.

Privacy campaigner Renate Samson, of campaign group Big Brother Watch, is wary about the technology.

The campaigner said: ‘This thing is going to be in your house, listening in on you.

‘Samsung say they are providing you with a service, but really the only service you need from a television is to watch programmes.’

Samsung had warned customers to ‘be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among data captured and transmitted to a third party through use of Voice Recognition’.

But yesterday the company said the technology needed to be activated first, and when this has been done, it operates at two levels.

Simple instructions can be given to the TV via its built-in microphone to, for example, change the channel.

More detailed requests, such as asking the smart TV to look for a film online, are made while pressing a button on the remote control.

Samsung admitted its privacy policy ‘has led to confusion’ but added it ’employs industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorised collection or use’.

John Kennedy, editor of the Silicon Republic website, said: ‘There is nothing new about this technology as you’ll find it six billion phones, 70 million cars and millions of laptops.

‘This really is not as big a deal as many people think it is, yet.’

The smart ‘interaction technology’ Samsung uses in some TVs enables users operate to their TV without pushing a button.

Users can instead control functions such as turning the power on and off, changing channels, accessing applications online and navigating the web using simple voice commands.

Voice recognition takes place in two ways: The first is through a microphone embedded in the TV set that responds to predetermined commands. In this case, voice data is neither stored nor transmitted.

But another microphone, inside the remote control, requires interaction with a server because it is used to search content.

It works like voice recognition services available on smartphones and tablets.

For example, a user might command: ‘Recommend a good Sci-Fi movie.’ The command is converted to text and sent down the line to computer servers in massive data centres.

There, the request – based on pre-programmed information – is dealt with in an automated fashion and the answer sent back to the user.

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