I take security and privacy issues seriously, but sometimes I despair when news stories such as that regarding Samsung TVs eavesdropping on private conversation explode across the media as happened last week. The reason for my despondency has less to do with the data privacy debate and more to do with the human stupidity one. That said, let's get the technical bit out of the way first.
Here's the thing though, if you've bought a 'smart' television do you actually think it is a self-contained intelligent organism? How do you think it figures out what you are searching for when you use the voice search function, and returns recommendations for stuff you might like to watch? It's not done by magic, it's done by technology. Your voice commands are heard by a microphone in the remote control unit, and in the case of simple functional commands are dealt with in situ by the TV. However, more complex interactions such as searching for programs to watch or asking for recommendations involve a process of data analysis via a remote server across the Internet. These certain interactive voice commands are only collected and sent to that server, operated by Nuance Communications in the US which makes speech recognition software, when the relevant voice button is pressed on the remote. Nuance translates the voice commands into text, text which enables the command request to be fulfilled. Like pretty much all speech recognition software, your spoken commands will be collected and analysed in order to improve performance - just as your smartphone or tablet will do. This is NOT the same as your telly monitoring your private conversations, so get over it and move on.