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Samsung Smart TV Can Hear What You Say And Record It

Samsung Smart TV Can Hear What You Say And Record It

With technology advancing by leaps and bounds every year, everything we use seems to be getting smarter and smarter. While this is good news for the most part, it might be worrying to those who are concerned about their privacy.

In the past few years we have seen this story played out a number of times. Take, for instance, the Xbox One’s Kinect, which is an always-on camera that monitors both your voice and bodily motions. While Microsoft stated that there were ways to disable its functionality temporarily, many were still concerned about what exactly Kinect was broadcasting to the world.

Or for another example, we have Apple’s Siri and other similar services like Google Now, which record what you say and store it on a central server, a server that certain company employees have access to.

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Now, enter Samsung, who, like Microsoft, Apple, and Google, is interested in making “smart products.” Take for instance, their new Smart TV.

Samsung’s Smart TV is an interesting product, to be sure, and a testament to how quickly technology is advancing. What concerns people, however, is the fact that this always-connected device keeps track of everything you are saying.

Before I go too far into the details, let me briefly explain how this TV works. Basically, it comes equipped with the ability to track your voice, so that you can change the channel by speaking instead of having to use a remote. Pretty convenient, right?

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You may be wondering to yourself then why there is so much controversy surrounding this TV. Well, the answer lies deep within Samsung’s privacy policy. To paraphrase, what the policy essentially states is that every word you say, including things not necessarily related to the TV, will be captured, recorded, and transmitted to a third party.

This means that sensitive information, such as your passwords, your daily schedule, and more could possibly be collected by some mysterious party, who then has access to your personal data. This is not comforting in the least, considering how easy it is to hack servers these days.

As Business Insider notes, anything you say that might be construed as being related to some kind of illegal action on your part, may be picked up by your TV, saved to a server, and delivered to law enforcement. Or, even worse, your Smart TV could be hacked and turned into a listening device by cyber criminals.

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Neither option sounds very appetizing to me, especially since we all know that many of the things we say in front of our TVs, in the “privacy” of our own homes, need to be taken with a huge grain of salt. What is scary is that Samsung won’t know the context of our conversations, and so might alert law enforcement whether or not we actually pose some kind of threat. As one website states, it all sounds creepily similar to the “telescreens” in George Orwell’s famous novel, 1984.

As a result of all of these concerns, Samsung responded with this:

“Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously. In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorised collection or use. Voice recognition, which allows the user to control the TV using voice commands, is a Samsung Smart TV feature, which can be activated or deactivated by the user. The TV owner can also disconnect the TV from the Wi-Fi network.”

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Interestingly, Samsung made no reference to the fact that private conversations can and will be recorded, and did nothing to address the concern that sensitive information might be passed on to authorities.

Their response seemed to be targeted towards assuring consumers that their Smart TVs can’t be hacked, as seen by how they referenced their information encryption process. While that is great, it really doesn’t address the primary issue. To be fair, Samsung did make a point of saying voice commands could be deactivated, but that’s really not a solution, as why else would you buy a Smart TV if not for the convenience of voice commands? For that same reason, disconnecting the TV from Wi-Fi isn’t a true solution either.

Basically, what they are implying is that you can either use your Smart TV to its full potential and risk your privacy, or leave your Smart TV dumb and keep your privacy intact. Which do you value more? If it’s the latter, you might as well stick to dumb TVs. Not only are they far cheaper, but you will get just a bit more of a daily workout thanks to the fact that you will need to use a remote!

Are you concerned about the privacy issues surrounding smart devices? Do you plan on getting a voice-activated smart television, or are you sticking to the good old-fashioned remote for now? Let me know in the comments!

Featured photo credit: Samsung Curved TV/ Kārlis Dambrāns via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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