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Samsung says its TVs aren't creeping on your living room conversations

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Samsung's gained a bit of unwanted attention lately over a poorly worded privacy policy that applies to its Smart TV lineup. A section of text about conversations being "transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition" was perceived to be an ominous warning that you should watch what you say when in the vicinity of any Samsung TV set. The controversy flared up into a full-on public relations crisis within just a couple days, and today Samsung has apparently deemed it worthy of a direct response.

Samsung just wants everybody to calm down

Essentially, the company is stepping in to tell everyone to calm down and that those 1984 references are way off base. In a blog post plainly titled "Samsung Smart TVs Do Not Monitor Living Room Conversations," the company does acknowledge that its clumsy, broad-strokes privacy policy could've used some clearer language.

According to Samsung, your TV only listens to you in very specific circumstances. Smart TV devices are programmed to recognize certain basic commands ("change the channel," "increase the volume") you'd want to use when controlling a television. But in this instance, an owner's voice data is "neither stored nor transmitted," claims Samsung. The other situation where voice comes in is tied to Samsung's search function, where a user speaks to the TV remote for a certain movie, actor, or other content. But here, Samsung claims its voice recognition technology works just the same way as most other major manufacturers. The TV only listens when you initiate the feature; it's not endlessly recording your family's living room chatter. The "clarified" privacy policy follows below, with relevant emphasis added by The Verge.

If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some interactive voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service provider (currently, Nuance Communications, Inc.) that converts your interactive voice commands to text and to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. Samsung will collect your interactive voice commands only when you make a specific search request to the Smart TV by clicking the activation button either on the remote control or on your screen and speaking into the microphone on the remote control.

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