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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 September 25, 2019

7 Best Project Management Apps to Boost Productivity

7 Best Project Management Apps to Boost Productivity

Project management doesn’t need to be a complicated thing, not if you have apps that make things a whole lot simpler. When you have project management apps, you can take care of your team, tasks and deadlines, without even being in the office. You don’t even have to spend a lot of money to get most of the apps you might need.

Here are the 7 best project management apps to super boost your team’s productivity:

1. Basecamp

    It’s probably the most well-known project management app out there. It allows you to organize projects that act as a central location for everything and contains such things as to-do lists, notes, events, files, and much more.

    It is user-friendly, and has a free 30-day trial period. After that, the plan is $99 per month.

    Find out more about Basecamp here.

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    2. Asana

      If you are looking for something that is not difficult to use, check out Asana. This is a great task management app that can be used for managing projects as well.

      In a nutshell, Asana helps you create and share task lists with your team. The app is simple but smart enough and has got a lot of integrations. Teams with up to 15 members can use Asana for free. Teams with 15 members and up can choose plans that range from $10.99 per month.

      Find out more about Asana here.

      3. Casual

        This is a unique app that offers a different way of doing things. On Casual, you plan your tasks just by drawing them as a flowchart. The neat thing is that Casual helps you visualize and track dependencies between tasks.

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        This app is incredibly intuitive and works great for personal projects, as well as for organizing projects for small teams. You can try it for free, and if you don’t like it, there is no obligation to pay for anything.

        Find out more about Casual here.

        4. Trello

          This app is incredibly user-friendly, and is based on Kanban boards. It actually works like a virtual whiteboard with post-it-notes.

          Trello is great for organizing your to-do lists, ideas, and is very easy to use. You can create several boards to use for various projects, and it’s free of cost. Trello is available to iOS and Android users as well.

          Find out more about Trello here.

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          5. OmniPlan

            This is an awesome app for iPhone and iPad users. If you love Gantt charts, this is definitely an app that you can get a lot out of.

            You start out by creating a simple project outline. Then you can use the app to help you through every step of the project until its completion.

            A standard plan for iOS costs just $99.99, and the pro plan is only $199.99.

            Find out more about OmniPlan here.

            6. Podio

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              This is a great app for medium and large-sized teams working on projects. The special point about Podio is that there are additional features such as CRM and social intranet.

              There are four different packages: Free, which is free for up to five employees and five external users; Basic, which is $9 per month per employee; Plus, which is $14 per month per employee, and Premium, which is $24 per month per employee.

              Find out more about Podio here.

              7. Microsoft Project

                This is one of the most commonly-used project management apps. However, it is also one of the most difficult apps to use. It does have a lot of features that are popular with project managers, which is why we have chosen to include in on this list. You can customize reports, track burn rates, and stay on track until projects are complete.

                The basic plan starts with $7 per month, which allows you project team members to collaborate in the cloud, via web browser or mobile.

                Find out more about Microsoft Project here.

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