When Your TV Watches You: Samsung Invents the Viewscreen

When was the last time you read 1984?

While I’m more a fan of funny science fiction — laughter is a wonderful defense, depression a horrible vulnerability — Orwell had a gift for seeing things in social structure. So go grab a copy.

Samsung’s brought out a TV with a built-in HD video camera and stereo microphones pointed at you, that you can’t disable. The whole thing’s got an integrated Internet connection and third-party apps. Combine this with modern face-recogition software (built into the TV, to ‘register viewers’) and the inevitable slew of remote vulernabilities (who’ll download security updates for their TV?) and commercial privacy abuses…

Best defense: don’t just skip the Samsung big-brother model, go drop your current TV off your roof. Preferably onto a tarp, to avoid a mess, and at night with scouts posted, to avoid another mess.

Bonus points for getting it on high-speed video.

(Why? Short version: think of the modern TV as the product of fifty years and $billions+ worth of mass-manipulation research.)


“Samsung’s 2012 top-of-the-line plasmas and LED HDTVs offer new features never before available within a television including a built-in, internally wired HD camera, twin microphones, face tracking and speech recognition. While these features give you unprecedented control over an HDTV, the devices themselves, more similar than ever to a personal computer, may allow hackers or even Samsung to see and hear you and your family, and collect extremely personal data.

While Web cameras and Internet connectivity are not new to HDTVs, their complete integration is, and it’s the always connected camera and microphones, combined with the option of third-party apps (not to mention Samsung’s own software) gives us cause for concern regarding the privacy of TV buyers and their friends and families.

Samsung has not released a privacy policy clarifying what data it is collecting and sharing with regard to the new TV sets. And while there is no current evidence of any particular security hole or untoward behavior by Samsung’s app partners, Samsung has only stated that it “assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable” in the event that a product or service is not “appropriate.””


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