EPIC filed a complaint with the FTC this week after media outlets pointed out Samsung's vague policy regarding their Smart TV voice recognition feature.
EPIC filed a complaint with the FTC this week after media outlets pointed out Samsung's vague policy regarding their Smart TV voice recognition feature.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over Samsung's business practices, in particular when it comes to the company's Smart TVs.

Samsung's privacy policy drew the attention of consumers, privacy advocates and media outlets earlier this month when it was pointed out that the South Korean company could be recording conversations in owners' homes.

The complaint alleges that when enabled, the TVs' voice recognition feature will record and transmit data to a third party “regardless of whether it is related to the provision of the service.” The complaint goes on to say that Samsung has stated that once sent to a third party, the company is not responsible for the providers' privacy or security practices.

Although Samsung claims that it encrypts all data sent to its third-party voice recognition provider, Nuance, EPIC claims that computer researcher David Lodge determined that the company “does not encrypt all the conversations it records and transmits to Nuance.”

 “The claims made by EPIC are not correct and do not reflect the actual features of our Smart TV," Samsung said in an email to SCMagazine.com. "Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously and our products are designed with privacy in mind.”

The complaint also alleges that Samsung's TV privacy policy violates the Subscriber Policy Provision in the Cable Communications Policy Act, as well as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

In an interview with SCMagazine.com, Julia Horwitz, director of the Consumer Privacy Project at EPIC, said the collective outrage over the voice feature made the company's privacy policy worthy of further investigation.

“[The privacy policy was] so surprising and so shocking to so many people that we thought it was a good indicator between the consumer expectation and the product on the market, and we thought Samsung would be a good company to investigate,” she said.

Ultimately, Horwitz said, the privacy organization hopes the FTC will investigate Samsung's policy and that the findings will push companies to innovate in a way that doesn't put consumers' privacy at-risk.