Senator Al Franken has sought details from Samsung and LG to explain the voice recognition technology in Smart TVs after reports emerged that its policies allowed capturing user’s conversations. The senator also sought details if the recorded information were being sent to third parties.
The letters seeking information were sent on Wednesday to Samsung North America CEO Gregory Lee and LG’s US president William Cho. Few days back, several reports stated that the smart TV’s were using their technology to have a “listening mode” for recording conversations. The concerning aspect was that the collected information were likely to be sent to advertisers.
“Consumers must be able to make informed decisions on whether and with whom they share that information,” said Franken.
A high-profile Democrat on the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and Law, voiced his concerns regarding Samsung’s policies that does not inform the users regarding the voice recognition feature. The privacy policies of Samsung’s smart TVs came under criticism after they were instructed them to be aware of their spoke words. However Samsung stated that voice will be recorded only when the user activates the feature via remote or voice commands.
Tech analysts revealed that Samsung used the help of third-party Nuance for speech-to-text analysis. A Samsung spokesperson responded to the reports that voice recognition feature can be disabled in the ‘Settings’ though this may disable some voice recognition features. LG is yet to respond to reports.
The senator has also asked the companies whether they have any right or control the way third parties used the recorded information. Franken is also dealing with a similar issue with ride-sharing company Uber on how private information of users is managed by the company. Collection and selling of private data of users are becoming more common in the Internet age as third-party advertisers seek to display ads based on the user’s needs.[ Source 1; Source 2 ]