Snooping Smart TVs an “Orwellian” Invasion

Article ID: 629679

Released: 12-Feb-2015 10:00 AM EST

Source Newsroom: Cornell University

Expert Pitch

Newswise — In 2013 a British IT consultant discovered that his LG Smart TV was sending information about his viewing habits and connected devices back to the manufacturer. This privacy invasion was recently surpassed with the revelation that Samsung televisions are recording voice conversations and sending them back to Samsung and a third-party voice recognition firm called Nuance.

Stephen B. Wicker, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University and the author of “Cellular Convergence and the Death of Privacy,” condemns this “Orwellian” invasion of privacy, which only spurs a market for privacy-aware devices.

Wicker says:

“These examples of surreptitious data collection are particularly alarming as they occur in the inner sanctum of the home. Samsung’s suggestion that users avoid private conversations in front of their televisions when the associated feature is in use is absurd. One should be able to converse freely in one’s own living room without worrying about the television.

“Such Orwellian surveillance is part of the ongoing connection of any and all things to the Internet – and the perception that massive data collection improves return on advertising investment.

“Privacy invasion in this interconnected age is relentless. Policy makers have been far too lenient; they must demand adequate disclosure of all data collection, particularly collection that occurs within the home. Users should also demand surveillance-free options.

“There is clearly a market for privacy-aware devices, and it is certainly the case that many features can be provided without a free flow of personal information from the user’s living room to the manufacturer and beyond.”


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