Meet Samsung's SmartTV Telescreen

Here's a quaint little excerpt from Samsung's UK privacy policy for it's SmartTV device:


(Living room surveillance ala Big Brother is sexy, no? Actually, no.)

“To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service that converts speech to text or 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.”

“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

Regular Technovelgy readers will not be surprised when I mention George Orwell's 1948 novel 1984, which described the use of the telescreen. In particular, the telescreen could listen in on conversations:

Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.

Update 24-Jun-2016: I forgot to include a reference to the city fathers from Cities in Flight (1957), by James Blish. These AI computers listened to everyone in the city, and evaluated their speech, and occasionally chimed in:

"...The fact that they're in this part of space at all... shows something went wrong with their first job, too."

Anderson snapped a switch on his chair. "Probability?" he said to the surrounding air.

"SEVENTY-TWO PER CENT," the air said back, making Chris start. He still had not gotten used to the idea that the City Fathers overheard everything one said, everywhere and all the time; among many other things, the city was their laboratory in human psychology, which in turn enabled them to answer such questions as Anderson had just asked.
(Read more about machine surveillance)

End update.

Via The Register.

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