Smart Devices Feature or Data Collection

Devices have been getting more user friendly as new devices, services and software comes out. Some of the new services do come with a price affecting security. Specifically one of the newer services to come around is Smart TVs. These devices are mostly beneficial but recently this has not been as true as before. Some of these device have microphones and video cameras that are always on. This can be helpful in situations to simplify our life but depending on where that data is processed it could be sending the data back to a server and getting information that it shouldn’t. This is true with most of the device that have recording devices that are always on because it takes a lot of processing power to do these operation and the device is not suitable for those computations. But this could be negative for the user because the user does not know what the company is using that information for.

I did some research into this on some of the big name brands like

  • LG Smart TV
  • Xbox Kinect
  • Amazon Echo
  • GM’s Onstar
  • Google’s Waze
  • Hello’s Sense
  • And more

So I did some research on what and how they are sending back to a central server for processing or for collection in some cases This information could be sold to third parties with out the knowledge of the users. I also looked in to ways of disabling the options if possible and if they are being securely sent over to the server.

Finally i did some research on the privacy policies of these companies to see what they said about collection of data and how the deal with the information on the server and who they sell and/or distribute it to.

This table shows all of the information that I have gathered compared against one another.

Samsung Smart TV Xbox Connect Amazon Echo GMs OnStar Google Waze Hello Sense
Video Recording

No

Yes

No

No

No

No

Audio Recording

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recording Other Information

No

Yes*** The Xbox also records your heartbeat, simple emotion state and can do voice and facial recognition on all people in view of the camera.

No

Yes*** OnStar is able to track GPS and other car information. They are able to get this information even if you are not paying for the service or bought a car that comes with OnStar.

Yes*** Google Waze is able to get contact information about the user if they choose to link a social networking account like Facebook, Linkedin, etc.

No

Disable Recording Setting

Default but can be disabled

Default but can be disabled

No

Default cannot be disabled

Yes

Yes

Data Outbound Encrypted

No

Yes

Yes

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Data Inbound Encrypted

No

Yes

Yes

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Privacy Policy

Data used as Samsung Wishes

Data used as Microsoft Wishes

Voice data not used*** Amazon does not use the voice data its self but it does use the text information from the voice data.

Data used as Onstar Wishes

Data used as Waze Wishes

Data used as Hello Wishes

Third Party Privacy Policy

Data used as Nuance Communications Wishes

No specified third parties

No specified third parties

No specified third parties

No specified third parties

No specified third parties

NSA Data Access

Unencrypted is picked by NSA

Part of PRISM

Unknown

OnStar affiliation with Law Enforcement

Part of PRISM

Unlikely

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