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Smart TVs too smart?

11 February 2015

It is being reported that smart televisions record owners’ conversations via voice recognition software, designed to allow users to control television features by voice command.

Privacy policies for such televisions contain wording confirming that, when using voice commands, if spoken words include personal information this will be transmitted to third parties who control the voice activation functions. Whilst the privacy policy states that such data is not sold to third parties it is unclear whether the personal data is used by the third parties for other purposes such as marketing.

The recordings only occur when the television microphone is switched on. However, given voice recognition features are a key selling point of such televisions a potentially large amount of personal data is being transmitted through this system.

This is the latest example of technological advancement stretching the boundaries of data protection regulations. This activity is likely to be contemplated by TV owners and perhaps more should be done to bring such features to the owner’s attention. It remains to be seen what use the TV manufacturers make of the data they collect.

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