Great – now your TV can spy on you

By Phil Elmore

Technology giant Samsung, which makes everything from smartphones and tablets to “smart” televisions, recently admitted something disturbing that, surprisingly, has not become a bigger story than it already is: Its smart televisions have a voice recognition system that “will not only capture your private conversations, but also pass them on to third parties.” According to CNET‘s Chris Matyszczyk, quoting a Samsung spokesperson, “Should consumers enable the voice recognition capability, the voice data consists of TV commands, or search sentences, only. Users can easily recognize if the voice recognition feature is activated because a microphone icon appears on the screen. … While Samsung will not collect your spoken word, Samsung may still collect associated texts and other usage data so that we can evaluate the performance of the feature and improve it.”

Dan Graziano explains that this “so-called scandal … affects only a small number of Samsung Smart TV models. While most of Samsung’s Smart TVs have some sort of voice function, almost all of them require you press the microphone button on the remote before it starts listening. The models that can recognize your voice are the ones that include a built-in camera and microphone, such as the Samsung PN60F8500. The TV won’t actually begin to process anything you say, however, until you say a voice command, such as ‘Hi TV.’ … [If] you are fearful that Samsung and an unnamed third-party partner (the company actually translating your voice to text) are listening to your conversations, you can simply turn off the Voice Recognition feature.”

It is probably symptomatic of consumers’ fatigue over their privacy that the Samsung story hasn’t gotten more traction. We’ve become so used to blithe transgressions against our privacy that we’ve become numb to them. We’ve already resigned ourselves to the fact that the NSA and various other government agencies are treating all American citizens as potential criminals, routinely gathering ALL our data transmissions (be they phone records, text messages, emails, etc.) for data mining and processing. We’re no longer impressed by applications that demand far-reaching permissions to our smartphones, tablets and computers. We don’t care that social media privacy policies and terms of services change every time the calendar does. As this fatigue sets in, the new “normal” becomes a Democrat-run police state of total surveillance in which none of us is afforded any privacy whatsoever. Is it any wonder that these programs have become so common, these affronts so casual, under a Democratic administration that regularly misuses and manipulates executive power, the IRS, census and unemployment figures, and every other aspect of government under its control?

As we ignore these invasions of our privacy, our free country continues to evaporate. As we accept these violations of our Constitution and our individual liberties, the ideological underpinnings of the United States continue to erode. The problem is not individual incursions into your private data, although these are troublesome enough by themselves. The problem is that every single sortie – by big government, big business and various bad actors, hackers and malefactors among your fellow citizens through your private information – creates entries in databases that, by themselves, could invade your privacy, but which, once cross-indexed, construct an inescapable net of personal data accumulated about you.

Your bank cards record your transactions and tell anyone who cares to look what you buy and whom you buy it from. Your smartphone logs your location, your text messages, your emails, your browsing history. Your shopping discount cards trace even cash purchases to a database of what you’ve acquired. Transaction data, including your identifying information, financial information, address information and a variety of other things you’d rather were not public can be “compromised” at countless “third party locations” where the companies with which you do business stockpile and fail to secure your information. The Near Field Communications (NFC) built into your credit cards and even your identification can be read at a distance even if you don’t mean for them to be. You, your life, your data and everything anybody could ever wish to know about you is available for anyone who chooses to look deeply enough, provided he or she has the means or the political power to trample your rights. You are vulnerable in countless ways to these intrusions – and this includes from your appliances, your “smart” energy meters and any other network-capable piece of technology.

As indicated in this column on the “Internet of things,” the downside to all this connectivity, quite apart from security concerns, is that when your life is completely monitored by “smart” devices (from your car to your communications to your thermostat to your Internet browsing history), anyone who controls those devices can run your life. Now consider the other entities who could be invading your devices or sifting through your personal particulars. They include everyone from corporations that just want to sell you things, to the hackers and identity thieves who prey on the often incompetent security those corporations employ. They also include your government.

Need a more immediate example? Various provisions in the wretched Obamacare legislation, which socializes – and cripples – health care in the United States, also contains mandates concerning electronic health records. This places millions of Americans at risk for violations of their rights and misuse of their identities and personal information – and if you think that won’t happen, consider that the Democrats couldn’t even build a functioning health-care website at market rates within a reasonable time.

President Obama has, in so many words, explicitly expressed his desire for total control over you. As he sibilantly slurs his way through various attacks on Christianity, individual liberty, economic freedom, American exceptionalism and every other foundational tenet of this free nation’s founding documents and underlying philosophy, he is making clear not just that he hates you and your politics, hates you and your liberty, hates you and your family. He is establishing quite clearly through word and deed that he has absolutely no problem with the myriad ways in which your government (and every other entity, private and public) invades your privacy.

To Democrats, you are not an individual. To progressives, you are not a human being. To Obama, you are not a free citizen.

You are a database, and Democrats believe that database exists to be exploited.

Media wishing to interview Phil Elmore, please contact [email protected].

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