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Samsung Says Their TVs Aren't Really Spying On You

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the jeesh-you-guys-are-so-paranoid dept.

Input Devices 171

lightbox32 writes "Samsung has finally responded to an article recently published by HD Guru titled 'Is your TV watching you?' [See this related Slashdot post] which discussed the fact that new features in Samsung's top 2012 models — including built-in microphones, HDTV camera, wireless and wired Internet connection, built-in browser with voice to text conversion, face recognition and more — could be used to collect unprecedented personal information and invade our privacy. Samsung has now provided their privacy policy, which may or may not lay the issue to rest." I vote for "not" — conspiracy theories about mandatory (or just secret) surveillance equipment in consumer electronics is just too persistent, even when the technical capabilities turn out to be a hoax; when the equipment is actually all in place and the user is protected only by a corporate honor policy, it's hard to be sanguine. (I recall there was a much rumored secret capability for law enforcement agencies to secretly and remotely turn on the internal microphones in PCs meeting the PC 97 spec, and this was an integral part of the plan. Since the government insists that telecom equipment have built-in backdoors, why should that sound all that crazy?)

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Paranoid? (5, Funny)

ottawanker (597020) | about 2 years ago | (#39536603)

Well, if you're so paranoid, get some tape and cover over the camera and microphone, or take it apart and disconnect it.

But, maybe even light bulbs have cameras and microphones in them now, using the powerlines to transmit the data back..

Re:Paranoid? (5, Informative)

anglico (1232406) | about 2 years ago | (#39536667)

FTFA

"Should the TV owner choose not to use these features, the camera and microphone can be disabled. Users can check if the camera and microphone are activated from the TV’s settings menu. As an added precaution, the camera can be rotated and tucked into the bezel of the TV. Once tucked away, the camera only captures a black image."

Re:Paranoid? (3, Interesting)

expatriot (903070) | about 2 years ago | (#39536753)

I presume that these features are part of the movement toward having TVs contain fully functional computers that can connect to the internet for viewing content or in the future Skyping other locations. That funtionality is in your laptop as well, but we expect it there. Sometimes the laptops spy on people, for example if it is stolen.

A TV that can transmit is more frightening to some. Perhaps because of 1984, but perhaps because that TV has become a major part of people's reality and has so far only been one way.

A totalitarian state, or even a demanding employer, could ask us to be available for conversation at any time. "Your choice, but if you have nothing to hide. We are only here to protect you from criminals." etc.

Re:Paranoid? (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#39536881)

Perhaps because of 1984, but perhaps because that TV has become a major part of people's reality and has so far only been one way.

Or because TVs are more likely to be found in bedrooms and other places where people would very much not want to be seen by others. Unlike laptops (which can be closed and/or moved), those TVs are always pointed so that you can see them from the bed. This means that if it has a camera, it can watch you have sex, it can watch you watch porn (which, Slashdot readers notwithstanding, is more likely on a TV than a computer), and (if the angle is wide enough) it can watch you get dressed in the morning.

A TV in a common room with a camera is potentially acceptable, but making it a standard feature of every TV would be a catastrophically bad idea. There are some places that cameras just do not belong. Like my bathroom.

Re:Paranoid? (4, Interesting)

Frohboy (78614) | about 2 years ago | (#39537461)

Perhaps because of 1984, but perhaps because that TV has become a major part of people's reality and has so far only been one way.

Or because TVs are more likely to be found in bedrooms and other places where people would very much not want to be seen by others. Unlike laptops (which can be closed and/or moved), those TVs are always pointed so that you can see them from the bed. This means that if it has a camera, it can watch you have sex, it can watch you watch porn (which, Slashdot readers notwithstanding, is more likely on a TV than a computer), and (if the angle is wide enough) it can watch you get dressed in the morning.

A TV in a common room with a camera is potentially acceptable, but making it a standard feature of every TV would be a catastrophically bad idea. There are some places that cameras just do not belong. Like my bathroom.

While I distlike the idea of TVs in bedrooms (unless you're a college kid whose only private space is the bedroom), I have to strongly disagree with the idea that a TV with a camera (that can watch you without your knowledge) in a common room is even remotely acceptable. Most of the time that I spend interacting with my child is in the living room, with the TV in plain sight, on standby (unless we're watching Sesame Street). I am strongly opposed to the very idea that someone could be watching or listening to what I'm teaching my children. (For what it's worth, I don't have anything to hide, assuming a secular upbringing loosely based on the "golden rule" isn't outlawed anytime soon, but if it were to be outlawed, I wouldn't want my TV ratting me out.)

To be honest, I would rather have a camera in the bedroom. I don't particularly care about shadowy figures watching me have sex with my wife. (We enjoy it, but we're not especially camera-friendly, and we don't do anything that you couldn't find much more professional "amateurs" doing online.) The values that we instill in our children are personal and way more important than our naked asses.

Re:Paranoid? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538163)

Riiight, because THAT is what a militant police state would want, free amateur porn. I can just imagine the conversations now "OMFG, would you look at the faces THAT guy is making? It looks like he's gonna drop a deuce LOL!" or "Oh shit, not that fat girl again, every time she bounces its like watching a 70s water bed with all the ripples!"

I can think of a few reasons why something like that might be useful to a government, but watching the average couple fuck? Not enough brain bleach in the world for that my friend, they'd be rolling agents out of the central viewing area with thousand yard stares and just rocking themselves going "Didn't want to see that, didn't want to see that" over and over.

Re:Paranoid? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538297)

You misunderstand. I'm not saying that the government wants free porn. I'm saying that as soon as the cameras are there, your love life is only a quick hack away from people who do.

Re:Paranoid? (4, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538471)

You misunderstand. I'm not saying that the government wants free porn. I'm saying that as soon as the cameras are there, your love life is only a quick hack away from people who do.

Indeed. There are webcams all over the net that people have put in their houses as "more effective" baby monitors and such.

And they are wide open to the internet.

Are you bored?

http://pastebin.com/fDkTWZGX [pastebin.com]

Trendnet cameras. Wide open to the world. And so is your life.

--
BMO

Re:Paranoid? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536895)

About that shooting in Florida with that Zimmerman guy. Oh noes, you mean another violent young thug got himself shot because he picked the wrong guy to attack? Cry me a fuckin' river. We have such a shortage of violence-worshipping thug-wannabes who contribute nothing and menace those who do. We must save each one of them!

I wish more thugs got themselves killed at such a young age, hopefully before knocking somebody up. They are as expendable as it gets. I hope white thug-wannabes get shot too. Tired of all these future career criminals. Society is a more fragile thing than you ppl think it is. The less of them we have the better.

Re:Paranoid? (-1, Offtopic)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#39536961)

I'm kind of torn here. But it does seem to me that if thugs feel like they might hit the death lottery by mugging random people maybe they'll start thiking twice about mugging random people.

Re:Paranoid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39537263)

ahh, i see the problem here. You are assuming that a mugger takes rational decisions into account when deciding on whether to mug some random person.

They do not.

Fear of getting caught, jail, or death does not enter the equation. You will be mugged either way. Now be a Good American Citizen and carry firearms with you so you can then get a nice chance of shooting somebody to death. But then he would be carrying too, so you might end up getting killed instead.

Gotta love guns, petty crimes get a free upgrade to fatal crime.

Re:Paranoid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39537291)

The only thug is Zimmerman. He was explicitly told by 9-1-1 dispatch not to follow the allegedly "suspicious acting Black man."

Re:Paranoid? (5, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | about 2 years ago | (#39536755)

what about the mic? if the switch is software it can be remotely accessed. the switches need to be physical.

Re:Paranoid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39537269)

My wire cutters are physical!

Re:Paranoid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536795)

"Once tucked away, the camera only captures a black image."

So instead of simply being "TURNED OFF", they "CAPTURE" a "black image".

So basically it is still in "CAPTURE MODE"? (this is the scary part).

What if I was black? Would I have a case in court ( I did have my eyes closed :) )?

Imagine all those TV's in the CHILDREN's bedrooms *wink* (BEST way to give Samsung BAD PUBLICITY - THINK OF THE PAEDOPHILES!).

Re:Paranoid? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536879)

No. They said if you're paranoid about some spook dialing into your camera, it can be disabled in the menu. If you're even more paranoid than that, you can turn the camera so it doesn't even point into the room, as well.

If you're any more paranoid than that... well then just don't buy one.

I own a laptop with a camera and microphone in it. I didn't write the operating system or drivers I use, but I can watch my network traffic. I see no difference with this device.

Re:Paranoid? (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#39537349)

Because things can cause a software switch to report being off, while actually being on, while it is exceedingly rare for a physical switch to do so.

Re:Paranoid? (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | about 2 years ago | (#39536813)

i know a lot of people taping the camera (also on laptops etc)
and actually, it make sense

Re:Paranoid? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 2 years ago | (#39536847)

This "wanker", as the name implies, is just ... you know ... wanking. He was just joking. There is no camera and/or microphones or any of that stuff in light bulbs.

Ok, then. Carry on. Have a nice day.

Re:Paranoid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536925)

That's the first thing I do any time I buy a product with a built-in video camera, I tape over it and only untape it when I'm using it.

Re:Paranoid? (2)

Panaflex (13191) | about 2 years ago | (#39536927)

I actually do this with my kids toys. Snip the wire or throw in a resistor and suddenly it gets much quieter. Not paranoia, just hate loud noise.

Re:Paranoid? (4, Insightful)

treval (89829) | about 2 years ago | (#39536949)

You are assuming the tape you put over the camera is not transparent at IR or UV light frequencies - think of the Sony 'night-vision' cameras that could see through clothes.

You are also assuming the gain of the microphone can't be turned up remotely to hear enough. Some decent signal processing can remove a lot of the underlying noise to recover the what is being said.

Ask yourself too, how many owners are going to keep the TV firmware updated to deal with the inevitable security holes that will be found?

Personally, I think it's not paranoid at all to question the pros and cons of these new 'features', inevitable as they may be.

Re:Paranoid? (2)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538311)

Transparency does not mean it will allow anything even remotely close to a clear picture to be transmitted through. Ever tried looking through scotchtape? That's what's on the camera in my work laptop (employer provided, no admin rights).

Re:Paranoid? (4, Funny)

Salgak1 (20136) | about 2 years ago | (#39536971)

But, maybe even light bulbs have cameras and microphones in them now, using the powerlines to transmit the data back..

Well, THAT certainly explains the Incandescent Bulb Ban, the installation of "Smart Meters", and that huge new NSA facility in Utah. But we need to connect it to HAARP, Chemtrails, and Obama's Birth Certificate for true conspiracy greatness. Extra points if you work in Black Helicopters, the Rothschilds, or the Tri-Lateral Commission.....

Re:Paranoid? (1)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538121)

There was a guy who was to report to his local police station every day because ho complained that secret mlitary tests made his incadescent light bulbs burn out. He kept a logbook of every tine this happened. It only happened 9 to 5, mondays to fridays.

Re:Paranoid? (4, Funny)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#39537105)

You dated my ex-gf didn't you? No joke! Her mother was your typical trailer trash alcoholic with a chain smoking habit. She was also bit wonky in the head. One day as my ex and I were sitting down on the sofa, I asked if her TV was broke or something. It's because she would cover the unit with a table cloth. Her response.

"When I watch TV, they are watching me."

The answer was in a serious tone. Talk about being ahead of her time. Not too far off.

Re:Paranoid? (1)

ThePeices (635180) | about 2 years ago | (#39537281)

How did you fit the couch into the trailer?

Re:Paranoid? (1)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#39537111)

But, maybe even light bulbs have cameras and microphones in them now, using the powerlines to transmit the data back..

The powerlines weren't reliable enough. Now the light bulbs transmit the data in the visible spectrum by DPSK-modulating the visible light; it's repeated throughout your house until it reaches a window at which point it's picked up by the black helicopter-drones and sent back to headquarters.

Re:Paranoid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39537183)

Cameras are so tiny these days they could easily be hiding next to your lightbulbs. :)

Re:Paranoid? (4, Funny)

hamburger lady (218108) | about 2 years ago | (#39537379)

doesn't like every laptop now have a built-in microphone, an HDTV camera, a wireless and wired Internet connection, a browser and software with voice to text conversion, face recognition and more?

we're gonna need a lot of tape.

shit, maybe this story was a plant by Big Tape! 3M has deep pockets. that's the real conspiracy.

Re:Paranoid? (1)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538077)

You can get remote control light bulbs these days - these are infra-red controlled for on/off and color. If they can fit an Ir sensor inside, they can fit a CCD sensor and microphone. They could even fit a fibgerprint reader on the on/off switch.

Philadelphia school spies on schoolkids via Webcam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39538445)

Paranoia? I find that dismissive. If you put cameras in these things, and mics, they WILL be used.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/7266059/School-spied-on-pupils-at-home-through-webcams.html

You might think only serious criminals need worry, but since when has that ever been the case? There's a whole raft of companies that do nothing but make spyware and take advantage of security holes, and a whole raft of busy bodies who'll use it, like the school above.

Basic common sense says you shouldn't buy this because it doesn't have a switch to turn off the camera and mic, and you'd have to trust Samsung's software not to permit others to use them. You don't need to take it apart and disconnect them, you just need to NOT BUY IT in the first place.

Marketing Opportunity - Privacy Star Compliance (5, Interesting)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 2 years ago | (#39536615)

Trust in corporate ethics is so incredibly low. Privacy expectations plummet every year. If I was a hardware manufcaturer, I'd fund an independent organization (like Consumer Reports) and say "use this money to investigate which new devices coming out violate consumer privacy, and issue ratings". If we can have Energy Star compliance, why not Privacy Star compliance? If all my tvs had Privacy Star stickers, and my competitors did not, +1 for me and my business.

Re:Marketing Opportunity - Privacy Star Compliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536733)

... and say "use this money to investigate which new devices coming out violate consumer privacy, and issue ratings, just don't poke around in our devices, ok?"

Fixed for realism

Really, why would you trust corporation-funded privacy investigations any more than corporation's press releases?

Re:Marketing Opportunity - Privacy Star Compliance (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | about 2 years ago | (#39536849)

That's an awesome idea, however, I fear that it will take a long time for people to be aware that this is good and needed.
Energy Star worked because people are aware we should preserve energy (also it make their bill lower)
They don't seem to figure out whats the issue with privacy yet (see FB, Twitter, preference cards in supermarkets/etc - list is huge)

Re:Marketing Opportunity - Privacy Star Compliance (2)

e9th (652576) | about 2 years ago | (#39537469)

Would "Privacy Star" compliance be more trustworthy than Energy Star? Remember when Congressional auditors got, among other things, a Gasoline-powered alarm clock [popularmechanics.com] an Energy Star certification?

Re:Marketing Opportunity - Privacy Star Compliance (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#39536945)

But you could never really do that. Energy use is easy - basically plug the machine into a Kill-a-watt and type up a sticker.

To ensure that a complex electromechanical device does not do something is nearly impossible. Sure, the default configuration might allow you to shut the camera down and you could see that nothing from the camera is being transmitted, but you could always put the machine into a 'nasty' mode which surreptitiously turns the evil eye back on.

Hard to do on a router. Hard to do on a TV. NOT having the physical capability is the only way to make sure it doesn't do something (other than nuking it from orbit, of course).

Re:Marketing Opportunity - Privacy Star Compliance (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538201)

To ensure that a complex electromechanical device does not do something is nearly impossible.

WTF? It's very easy to certify that a TV doesn't have a camera and microphone installed to watch you.

It's also easy to certify that devices inherently capable of spying come with a real privacy policy instead of a "privacy policy".

Re:Marketing Opportunity - Privacy Star Compliance (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 years ago | (#39537219)

Two issues. One: it would call attention to the issue. The public by and large isn't too concerned about privacy (see facebook.) Corporations would have an interest in not calling any more attention to it, whether they want to spy on you or whether they simply don't want spend any extra money ensuring the stuff they sell you could not spy on you. Participation in this privacy star program would be voluntary, and no one would participate in it.

Two: Those people that don't care about privacy (most of them), that won't be a selling point for them. Those of us who do care about it, are we going to trust a coalition of large corporations to not spy on us just because they put a sticker on their products saying as much? I certainly wouldn't. This certification would thus have no value to either group.

Re:Marketing Opportunity - Privacy Star Compliance (3, Informative)

doston (2372830) | about 2 years ago | (#39537513)

Trust in corporate ethics is so incredibly low. Privacy expectations plummet every year. If I was a hardware manufcaturer, I'd fund an independent organization (like Consumer Reports) and say "use this money to investigate which new devices coming out violate consumer privacy, and issue ratings". If we can have Energy Star compliance, why not Privacy Star compliance? If all my tvs had Privacy Star stickers, and my competitors did not, +1 for me and my business.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but what you seem to be implying is that industry can regulate itself. I think the Banking sector, Oil industry, Pharma, Agriculture all prove that industry (the market, corporations...whatever you want to call it) cannot regulate itself. The reason for the success, which your post either deliberately or naively ignores, is that Energy Star was created by the EPA and the Department of Energy during the Clinton administration. What corporations are real good at is rolling back regulation...see the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act, which the banks worked to repeal for years, finally got their way, then began engaging in reckless behavior. Not to bash your post, be everyone is so indoctrinated that Goverment=bad, Corporations=good. Most what's left of the good life, the masses owe to organizing, unions, federal regulations and the court decisions of some "liberal activist" judges that they're supposed to hate now. Your plan sounds great, but don't forget who's going to have to implement it...Your Government.

Re:Marketing Opportunity - Privacy Star Compliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39537641)

Very good idea, please would someone push for this, if they have power to do so?

Re:Marketing Opportunity - Privacy Star Compliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39537979)

An industry-funded group that certifies that their own devices aren't spying on you? I can't see how there's room to mislead the customer under such a scenario.

Re:Marketing Opportunity - Privacy Star Compliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39538423)

If I was a hardware manufcaturer, I'd fund an independent organization

*facepalm*

Winston! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536635)

"The instructress had called them to attention again. 'And now let's see which of us can touch our toes!' she said enthusiastically. 'Right over from the hips, please, comrades. One-two! One- two! ...' "

I can see why Americans are in outrage and upset about the prospect of mandatory exercise via the Televue screen :)

Re:Winston! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536687)

This must be the new Obama-Care for all :)

An old idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536657)

Remember the scene in Kentucky Fried Movie where the news anchors are watching a couple having sex and trying hard to not let on they can see them through the TV? These days it may be a uncomfortably close to the truth.

In Soviet Russia television is watching YOU! (5, Funny)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 2 years ago | (#39536659)

In Soviet Russia television is watching YOU!

Of course... (5, Funny)

Terrasque (796014) | about 2 years ago | (#39536661)

Samsung Says Their TVs Aren't Really Spying On You

Of course they'll be saying that. They'd be crazy NOT to say it.

I mean, they have enough patent lawsuits from Apple already.

Message from Samsung: (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#39536679)

Your boxers have a hole in them.

FTFY (3, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#39536883)

Your blue polka-dot boxers, the ones you wore this morning, may have a hole in them. We wouldn't know, since we're not spying on you.

Re:Message from Samsung: (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 years ago | (#39537061)

Your boxers have a hole in them

Our salesman will be around in a jiffy with a selection of new boxers in your size. *Ding-Dong* - That'll be him now, don't worry about your pants and wallet, we have your banking details and we've seen what you put in your boxer shorts.

Such an incredible opportunity... (5, Interesting)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#39536683)

For someone to create a personal firewall that prevents unwanted access to your appliances and unwanted data transmission from your appliances. It should be reasonably easy to build such a device, sell it for a reasonable price and let everyone know that they now have complete control over what their appliance does and when. I'd buy one in a minute!

The only way to prevent oher people from taking inappropriate advantage is to eliminate the opportunity.

Re:Such an incredible opportunity... (2)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 2 years ago | (#39536765)

There already is a personal firewall that can do exactly that: iptables. [wikipedia.org] Of course, you have to be running a real OS to take advantage of it.

Re:Such an incredible opportunity... (2)

kangsterizer (1698322) | about 2 years ago | (#39536865)

the problem is that its not so simple since you've to figure where the data is sent to in order to block it and that it can have multiple addresses, that the name used can resolve to various ips and change over time, that updates can change it, that it be tied to whatever online service the tv needs to be fully functional (stores for example), and even so they could still hide it in legit-looking requests without afaik, (ianal), violating any law

Re:Such an incredible opportunity... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 2 years ago | (#39537193)

Actually, if you can find out what port they're using (and it's not the same port as they use for legitimate data) you can simply block the port completely. And of course, you can also block incoming requests on the ports they use making it hard, if not impossible for them to control any spyware.

Re:Such an incredible opportunity... (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 2 years ago | (#39537347)

...unless it is using a wifi link to transmit to the police outside.

Re:Such an incredible opportunity... (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538011)

It's been a while since I did anything firewall related - but surely it would be easier to white list sites for the IP address of the TV? *.youtube.com for example?

probably already on there? (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538327)

Most of these modern TVs have linux on them, but don't come with shell access and complete kernel sources....

Re:Such an incredible opportunity... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#39536885)

The problem is in making it useable to the masses. The untrained don't even know what a packet is. The best defence we have is a small army of geeks who do care enough to check, and are ready to report their observations all over the internet.

Re:Such an incredible opportunity... (2)

Sepodati (746220) | about 2 years ago | (#39537015)

How do you plan to identify a "good" packet from an unwanted one when they're both likely destined for Samsung?

Re:Such an incredible opportunity... (1)

lgw (121541) | about 2 years ago | (#39537173)

And when the packet is headed for an EC2 IP on port 80, just like that Netflix viewer people want to use? Will you just test the Evil bit or something?

Ultimately this is a solvable problem, because steganography is hard, but it's not an easily solvable problem by any means. It would probably take the resources of a major government or large corporation to be quite sure nothing unwanted was in any outbound packets, and that itself would make the device non-trustworthy, so I don't think it's practical.

Re:Such an incredible opportunity... (2)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39537929)

How would you implement such? The devices would very be unlikely to transmit their data in human-readable text, so you'd need to know the binary layout of the data packets transmitted, and such details would not just be handed over when asked for. Then you have to take into account that different manufacturers wouldn't use the same protocol, and possibly not even one manufacturer would use one protocol among all of its products, so you'd have to reverse-engineer ALL your internet-connected appliances. Not to mention things like possible proprietary encryption and SSL.

While Samsung denied any TVs were spying (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536695)

They did confirm that an earlier line of their toasters might continue laughing at customers until the firmware was upgraded.

Re:While Samsung denied any TVs were spying (1)

bughunter (10093) | about 2 years ago | (#39536861)

I dunno why [ehow.com] , but I found this comment immensely funny. (Score:+1, non sequitur [wikipedia.org] )

Cellphones.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536721)

So now they watch you through your TV, and listen to you using the features of E911 on your cellphone.

Orwell's telescreen was something horrible the government forced into homes. Our electronics (whether overtly spying or just aggregating data like Facebook) are more a combination of Orwell's fears with Huxley's. We WANT the things the bad guys will use against us.

Re:Cellphones.. (2)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#39536781)

No, Orwell pretty much had it right. Only members of the party had telescreens. The proles couldn't afford them. This means members of the party probably (though it is not explicitly stated, IIRC) wanted them, at least at first. Oppression almost always starts out as something you want—safety, security, video chatting—that later gets abused by those who know how much you want it. First the carrot, then the stick, and all that.

Re:Cellphones.. (1)

Idetuxs (2456206) | about 2 years ago | (#39537371)

That's makes so much sense. " [...] starts out as something you want [...] It's a known strategy to induce that on people, make them want control others because of fear and accept being watched as well. So creepy, it's difficult to get away of that with so much insecurity around.

At least we had Orwell, to say "Hey! that's a telescreen, I don't want that, it's too dangerous" Thanks to Orwell (Bradbury too, Fahrenheit 451), I know how Dystopias look like.

Simple time tested solution (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536745)

I've never understood the anxiety that this kind of thing causes. If you want to stop your tv or toaster or lighbulb from spying on you then:

1. go to a kitchenware place
2. buy some cooking foil
3. craft it into the shape of a baseball cap
4. position it as high as possible on your body

This works for all types of covert stuff that the man uses, with the exception of dream-robbing.

Re:Simple time tested solution (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#39537115)

Easier, just don't plan your putsch in front of your television.

Here I am... (5, Funny)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#39536757)

...brain the size of a planet and they ask me to spy on you through this crappy little camera in my bezel. Call that job satisfaction, 'cause I don't.

PC97 (3, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#39536787)

Paranoid much?

PC97 PC's? Seriously? Barely anybody had a network connection when that was out, let alone remote-access. And how would remote access to that microphone work through your firewall and without you noticing the traffic?

Every time you come up with (or reiterate) a crap conspiracy theory, I mentally filter everything you say as if I was talking to the local nutter on the bus.

Re:PC97 (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 years ago | (#39537245)

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/03/petraeus-tv-remote/ [wired.com]
Now more devices have network connections, firewalls are on average consumer junk sitting on consumer OS.
Your "Internet of Things" is now open to the CIA inside the USA.
The noticing the traffic would just be the usual data that that a new device sends back for recipes, extended warranty, new, exciting apps and all the data needed personalizes the experience.
All that unique data might just flow back via a fed sever onto its usual ip - your fancy Linux/Mac/Windows firewall would see nothing.
A log of faces, sound, location and temperature aware ads http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/23/google_mobile_ads_patent/ [theregister.co.uk] .
Then add in that browsing history, HTTPS URL that your telco or other client might have got via some small 3rd party to better understand their network... that shipped in every device.
The FBI has used mobile phone mics as roving bugs http://news.cnet.com/2100-1029-6140191.html [cnet.com] noted back in ~2003
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Lantern_(software) [wikipedia.org] hints at what some anti-virus companies would do to help :)

Stop hiding, Samsung! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536789)

This is why we need open source software. We are wasting our time with speculation if we could just look at the code.

Re:Stop hiding, Samsung ? Load Brains First (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39537243)

This is why we need open source software. We are wasting our time with speculation if we could just look at the code.

Please load your brains before you shoot your mouth off! [samsung.com] But then again this is slashdot. Samsung does compete with Apple for the hearts and minds of non tech savy consumers most of which have no clue about the Busy-box and OSS and the Linux kernel which makes all this home tv tech possible.
Samsung does provide the source. Read the eulas. If you do hack it and run a modded firmware you do so at your own peril. Some of the stuff that they do is interesting and can be hacked. I am sure that if they were to hide calls to enable camera and microphone function remotely from the net it will be discovered. But I cannot see them being that stupid.

Just wish some of the smart people that actually read and write code would post what they find out about the java binaries that Samsung uses. I am sure that their functionality can easily be observed in an emulator, so if it is possible for some Russian mafia hackers to watch you make out by activating your camera remotely then someone will find out, until this actually occurs..please stop posting crap about how all corporations except for Apple are evil!

The art and science of trust. (3, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 years ago | (#39537353)

This is why we need open source software. We are wasting our time with speculation if we could just look at the code.

This is by far the lamest and most impractical meme slashdot has created to date. Have you looked at the size and complexity of any popular OSS application/library? A cleverly hidden back door could take you an eternity to find, and that's when you already understand the design (or lack thereof). Not only that, but you then have to build it to verify the binaries on the machine are the same as what you built from the source. When all is said and done and you have complete trust in the software you then run it on chips provided by the same company you don't trust.

There is no surefire way to determine if these kind of devices (and the companies that supply them) are trustworthy, just as there is no surefire way to determine if a person is trustworthy. Trust is subjective, all anyone can really do is examine their reputation and track record, and perform random spot checks. Sure you can do more than spot check, you could sniff every transaction on the wire. But just as you can never be absoluely certain there are no bugs, you also can never be absoluely certain there are no back doors.

Financial institutions primarily catch internal "cyber-thieves" by auditing the information trail they alter, not by reviewing the code they alter.

It's not a new idea (4, Interesting)

n5vb (587569) | about 2 years ago | (#39536877)

I vote for "not" — conspiracy theories about mandatory (or just secret) surveillance equipment in consumer electronics is just too persistent, even when the technical capabilities turn out to be a hoax; when the equipment is actually all in place and the user is protected only by a corporate honor policy, it's hard to be sanguine.

Considering that "viewscreens" that allowed The Party to watch people in their homes were an integral part of the story of Nineteen Eighty-Four [wikipedia.org] , it's arguable that people who are familiar with that story are probably inclined to at least think briefly about the possibility. (In the book, the "viewscreens" couldn't be turned off, although it's fair to say that most pieces of modern tech aren't exactly ever "off" unless you completely disconnect all sources of power, so this may be 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.)

Then again, in this age of the almighty corporation, how much is a simple corporate assertion of goodwill really worth?

Re:It's not a new idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39537453)

Bah, in a sufficiently large and complex device, you can't even guarantee that a power disconnect will stop someone who's determined enough to record you. Just integrate a battery and storage device, along with an appropriate charging circuit into the electronics of the device. As long as you put content on the TV that encourages the user to actually plug it in regularly, you can still record them without a break, power disconnects or not.

Perhaps I need a bigger tinfoil hat.

Re:It's not a new idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39538187)

Definitely not a new idea. We got our hands on some Chinese made SIP phones that had a backdoor that would turn on the camera's and mic without turning on the "in use" lights and just start streaming an RTP stream to the destination of your choice.

Orwell was almost right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536909)

As I recall, he had predicted the downfall would start with Vizio. Otherwise, sadly prescient.

So (1)

koan (80826) | about 2 years ago | (#39536939)

Stop using them, at what point exactly did constant entertainment become a necessity? Have any of you ever taken an electronic sabbatical, meaning no electronics (save lights and stove) at all.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39538347)

Why do you think ovens have glass in the door? So YOU can see INSIDE? Bahahaha!

Captcha: sadden

Elections are not working, lets try something else (1)

bdabautcb (1040566) | about 2 years ago | (#39536979)

Governmen't has failed and has even backdoor-supported a lot of companies on these issues. I have decided to start voting with my wallet. Call me a luddite or whatever, but last year after my identity was stolen, I deleted my facebook account and anonymized my other accounts as best I could. I moved my personal banking to a credit union; I miss having access to a free atm at Super America, but with a little planning I get cash at the union before I need it. I have almost never been in an 'emergency' where I needed cash immediately, if this occurs I will suck it up and pay the atm fee. I sure miss some things, when I was in school I remember running out to get GTA San Andreas with three friends on the release date, but I haven't bought a console since I got my PS2 in 2002. In fact, Humble Bundle and some other indie's have served my gaming needs since I graduated in 2009. (Also, playing console and LAN games at friends houses. I am a cook, so I usually supply delicious treats and my friends and their wives pretty much let me get my fix). Also won't buy television services, I either go to a bar or friends houses. If all of these companies experience a large drop in revenue, they may change their tune pretty quick. Same goes for government.

Re:Elections are not working, lets try something e (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39537117)

You can't boycott government. When they don't get enough money from you they raise taxes to get more.

That is the difference between corrupt government and corrupt corporation.

How to confuse a yank :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39537147)

If you don't have one of these, then you are not a patriot!

Uhhh Ill take 5 for my house then please :)

What is "TV"? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39537177)

I was born in 1980. What's this "TV" that you speak of? Some kind of archaic Internet?

Privacy policy is worthless (2)

sqlrob (173498) | about 2 years ago | (#39537213)

. We reserve the right to change this Privacy Policy at any time

It also looks like they may not have even thought things through particularly well. I started seeing articles March 20th.

This Privacy Policy is effective as of March 26, 2012,

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39537567)

just don't buy Samsung...

Already have camera and mics in most bedrooms (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39537583)

Ever heard of camera phones or smart phones? Most people have one, many of those charge them in their bedroom at night. They have wireless connections to a network, mostly don't use open source software, etc. About the only difference is that the camera is not likely to be facing the bed, but the microphone will still work just fine.

Now, poke a few holes in your foil hat, I think your scalp is starving for oxygen and sunlight.

Cue Theremin! (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39537659)

The saucers are coming. A remember, they zipped a few hundred light years to personally shove some probe up your butt.

spying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39537859)

When I was a child, I always thought "they" could see me through my TV while I was watching cartoons. If I was a kid today..my fears might actually be true D:

Guarenteed to stop any spying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39537917)

is to watch tv nude all of the time.

Build you own? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538005)

Who needs a 'TV' with a camera and internet access anyway?

Do it yourself with a usb web cam, DVB-T USB adapter, raspberry pi and any old 1080p monitor with HDMI inputs, a USB hub and speakers?

Re:Build you own? (2)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538391)

Yes, that sounds MUCH easier.

It's not just TVs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39538055)

Players spy on you too. Remember that porn Blu-Ray you bought for cash? They know how many times you watched it, and which tracks were your favorites.

Praise Big Brother Komrade (SCTV) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39538127)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVcCVd_eumA

PC97 conspiracy theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39538405)

"I recall there was a much rumored secret capability for law enforcement agencies to secretly and remotely turn on the internal microphones in PCs meeting the PC 97 spec, and this was an integral part of the plan. Since the government insists that telecom equipment have built-in backdoors, why should that sound all that crazy?"

Well, given that the only plausible way of that working without being easily detectable by any half-competent technical user or sysadmin is some kind of timing side-channel on Ethernet packets (assuming the system is even connected to a network, which when PC97 came out isn't necessarily a given) or on PPP frames going out the modem, and the fact that any timing information would get garbled by every router in the path, it does sound pretty crazy to me.

Not to mention the complexity of getting every hardware manufacturer building PC97 systems to either implement this functionality or include some chip which does it, and getting every ISP in the world to capture the side-channel information and send it to law enforcement, and managing to silence every person who knew about it at every hardware manufacturer and ISP from then until now. Yeah, sounds like pretty typical conspiracy theorist bullshit to me. Does no-one who repeats this drivel actually spend five minutes critically thinking about it?

April Fool's! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39538425)

Of course they're spying on you.

Everybody sees the potential for evil (3, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538451)

but there is also potential for good And I claim the patents! (or at least establish the obviousness of the following applications)

  • Save power by detecting that all viewers have left the room and turning off the video.
  • Save even more power by detecting that nobody's watching in quite some time and turn off the set.
  • Save mindshare by telling advertisers that nobody is watching their stupid ads. (So they're motivated make more interesting ads.)
  • Save sanity by telling channels that nobody is watching their stupid programs. (So they're motivated to not air such complete garbage.)
  • Eliminate remotes. TVs can respond to verbal commands or gestures to change the channel, turn off the TV, change the volume, search for shows, enter credit card numbers Okay, that's evil, but it's my idea. This would reduce the amount of time spent digging in my couch.
  • Feed back info to local news channels that tell them nobody's interested in their damned "human interest" fluff pieces.
  • Video calls to grandma. How can you not approve of video calls to grandma?
  • Detect that there are kiddos in the room and automagically block porn.
  • Detect that there are nekkid kiddos in the room and automagically block the distribution of kiddie porn.
  • Detect that there are kiddos in the room and target them with ads for stuff their parents hate but won't be able to resist buying when the ids whine for it. Okay, evil again, I know.
  • Detect that there are kiddos in the room and skip the viagra and liquor ads.
  • Detect that there are no pets or kids in the house and skip the ads for cat litter and kids' junk.
  • Detect that there are no women in the room and skip the ads for feminine hygiene products and other stuff that men don't even want to think about.
  • Detect that you are sitting on a threadbare couch and wearing cheap clothes from Wal-Mart and skip the ads for stuff you can't afford.

Re:Everybody sees the potential for evil (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538463)

And one I forgot: Detect what language you are speaking and switch the audio to that language if it's available. If it's not English it can also attempt to verify your immigration status and put in a call to ICE.

Oh, hell, now that we're on spying ideas, there are some public-safety-relevant ones:

Detect assaults in progress and dispatch the police.
Detect cries for help and dispatch the police.
Detect snuggies and dispatch the fashion police.

Promise? Can we have that as a binding contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39538461)

It's time that companies are held accountable to their core beliefs and central promises. Especially when they make outrageous statements like "we would never do that" or "do no evil". There should be a designation or line drawn. They shouldn't be allowed to cross that line - and only destruction of the company and all subsidiaries is acceptable punishment. No appeals - if they cross the line they are gone. This will then make it very important for them not to even approach that line.

If companies want to be people then they should die when they cut their own throats.

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