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Home / Opinion / Guest writers / Too Smart For Me!

Too Smart For Me!

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Crime Watch with Walt Candelari

Candy is bordering on hysterical. She found out that their brand new super smart TV, the one with all of the bells and whistles, the one that can be voice activated/ operated not only responds to voice commands, but reportedly it records more than simply the voice commands …. It will record their conversations while in the active mode. And to top it off, it is shared with a third party. Originally Bill just shrugged his shoulders but has taken a totally different posture when Candy reminded him of several of their conversations sitting there in front of “Big Brother” as they have named it.
Add to this situation the fact that some televisions also have the ability to send pictures. And to think, they almost had it installed in their bedroom! There have been reports of “Nanny Cams” – the ones used by parents to monitor what is happening at home while they are at work – being hacked and ‘unknown parties’ watching and making comments. A big fear is that the camera has been hacked and, unless the hacker says or does something to alert you, you may never know.
When Bill read the disclosure on the paperwork that came with the TV, listing all the ‘attributes’ of Big Brother, he found that all of it was there including the recording and use by third parties. It clearly states that the voice recognition protocols can capture voice commands and associates texts so that they can provide you with Voice recognition features and evaluate and improve features. The added warning cautions people to be aware that if their spoken words include personal or other sensitive information that it will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party. All perfectly legal.
You CAN turn the voice features off …. But isn’t that part of the reason you purchase that TV?
This is not a reason to panic but, as with all other devices connected to the internet, read the fine print and understand what the device is capable of and who can legally have access to it.
The next issue is should you purchase ‘anti-virus’ software? That issue is discussed in a posting on the http:forums.cnet.com and there does not seem to be a clear consensus. Issues range from – is there even an anti-virus program out there, the level of sophistication needed to hack the system, to – is there any real value in hacking an ordinary citizens TV? If a device is connected to the internet you need to ask questions. Consider all of your other ‘smart’ devices and ask the same questions. To this point, I have not found anyone that has had this happen and most stores argue that because of the differences in the operating systems, it is highly unlikely that this would ever happen.
I don’t have a clear answer or recommendation. I can tell you to read all of the fine print on any ‘smart’ device; ask questions of someone who knows and check with the items manufacturer. Remember: Think, plan and execute crime-prevention design. Don’t be a crime victim.

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