Samsung swears its smart TVs aren't eavesdropping on you

Samsung's CES 2015 booth: loads of TVs

Over the weekend, quite a few people panicked at the phrasing of Samsung's smart TV privacy policy. Its warning that third parties would get your sensitive spoken info conjured up images of Orwellian telescreens spying on their viewers. The reaction was largely paranoia (this was just a description of standard cloud-based voice recognition), but the company isn't leaving anything to chance -- it posted a retort that denies any eavesdropping and clarifies what its screens are really doing. As Samsung explains, neither the TV's mic nor the one in your remote are monitoring everything you say. The TV only listens for a predetermined set of commands, while the controller won't handle more sophisticated requests (such as asking for movie advice) until you hit a button.

The explanation isn't perfect (how long is that information stored, for example?), but it doesn't leave much room for debate. However, it also suggests that smart TV makers haven't finished tackling the privacy concerns that have plagued them since at least 2013. Unless every manufacturer both respects privacy and is clear about what's happening, there may always be a nagging suspicion that these smart sets are too nosy.