Infowars first reported on the issue three months ago in November, but the story went viral over the weekend after being picked up by numerous technology websites.
After an Electronic Frontier Foundation activist made a chilling comparison between the Smart TVs and telescreens in George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984, Samsung was forced to respond, telling the Guardian that users could opt out of the voice recognition feature.
However, the company did admit that if consumers gave permission for the voice recognition feature to be activated, their words would be, “sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV.”
“We employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorised collection or use,” the company added.
However, when challenged by a blogger who called Samsung to find out more about the process, representatives seemed to be confused about the precise reason as to why voice data was being collected.
“Is that what this is, are you complying with a federal court order to record what’s going on in my living room?” asked Joe Fabeets, to which the Samsung representative responded, “Yes sir, exactly.”
Samsung is by no means the only company potentially capturing private conversations during its data collection process. In 2013, gamers complained that Microsoft Kinect was monitoring their Skype conversations for swearing and then punishing them with account bans.
The company informs its users that they “should not expect any level of privacy concerning your use of the live communication features,” while Microsoft also “may access or disclose information about you, including the content of your communications.”
The notion of every private conversation, even within the confines of someone’s living room, being under surveillance, was a prospect raised by Senator John McCain in the aftermath of the Donald Sterling controversy last year.
“It’s the world we’re living in, you don’t like it, but everything I say I expect to be recorded,” McCain stated.