How To Stop Your Smart TV From Eavesdropping On You

It turns out that "smart" Samsung television you dropped a few hundred dollars on might be listening in on your conversations and transmitting them to a third party

There may be such a thing as "too smart" when it comes to your devices.

A recent report says Samsung's Internet-connected Smart TV might be listening in on your conversations and transmitting them to a third party via a voice control feature meant to change channels, adjust volume, browse apps and more.

Shane Harris of The Daily Beast noticed last week that the Smart TV's privacy policy includes the following clause: "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."

The company confirmed to The Huffington Post that the feature does send voice control requests to a third party, which then searches for results and returns them to the user's device. Samsung doesn't store or sell the voice data, she said.

But if you're truly paranoid -- and you've already spent the money on a Smart TV you can't return -- it's possible to disable the feature. Here's how to turn off voice control:

The easiest way.

Avoid the remote.

According to a video from Samsung, you need to hold a button on your Smart TV remote to activate voice recognition. When it's active, a microphone icon appears on the TV screen. In theory, if you don't hold that button and the microphone isn't displayed, you shouldn't worry that your television is listening to whatever elaborate conspiracy you're plotting in the family room.

The somewhat harder but more absolute way.

Turn the feature off altogether.

You can use the menu button on your Smart TV's remote control to deactivate voice recognition, according to this Samsung video. Switching it off means you won't have to worry about accidentally bumping the remote's voice recognition button at the exact millisecond you divulge secret information that must be kept from a South Korean electronics company at all costs.

The inconvenient way.

Depending on your Samsung TV, you might be able to disable the WiFi altogether. This will stop the device from picking up voice commands, according to Samsung. (Some have had trouble shutting off WiFi on older models, which seem to require tricky workarounds.) Doing this will make your Smart TV about as dumb as a normal TV, and while that kind of defeats the purpose of buying one in the first place, at least you won't feel paranoid about it eavesdropping on you.

The actually insane way.

Get ready for some surgery.

If you can't figure out how to turn off your television's WiFi, this video offers a way to rip the thing open and disable it manually. This, however, will void your warranty and could even render your TV useless. We don't recommend it.


While these tips are specific to Samsung Smart TV devices, similar methods can be used to turn off the voice control options on other TVs that use voice recognition.

As of November 2014, Samsung was leading the 4K and ultra-high-definition television markets by a huge margin, according to the NPD Group, which tracks the consumer electronics market along with other industries. All the 4K UHD TVs listed on Samsung's website are Smart TV models.


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