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What Samsung's Smart TV is really saying about you

The recent publicity about Samsung’s Smart TV listening in on private conversations has received a lot of public attention, but this latest privacy issue is nothing new to the technology community.

The Internet of Things (IoT)–and the implications resulting from millions of Internet-enabled devices becoming part of everyday life—is a topic that has been at the forefront of almost every technology conference and 2015 predictions list over the past year. Indeed, the challenge of protecting consumer privacy while delivering high quality Internet-connected or, “smart,” devices is one that IT professionals have been grappling with for some time.

At this point, there is no definite answer when it comes to how we can make sure our information is secure in a rapidly changing technological landscape.

Samsung is just the latest example of how IoT affects the consumer. Samsung’s privacy policy—just recently modified by the way—acknowledged that voice-activated commands can be recorded and sent to a third party. Samsung says it included this information in its policy so that consumers would be aware of how their information is being used. The company revealed to the BBC that the third party that receives the information is Nuance, the Burlington, Mass., vendor that specializes in voice recognition.

Samsung’s nosy TV is among the first major illustrations of how the general public may be affected by the Internet of Things. Judging by the backlash reported in the news, a lot of people aren’t too thrilled about having their personal information recorded by their no longer benign television display.

And this won’t be the last time that privacy issues regarding smart devices will arise. Innovation cannot be stopped. But according to Jim Hunter, chief scientist and technology evangelist at managed services security provider Greenwave Systems, it can be controlled.

According to Hunter, the simple step of changing the name “data” to “content” is one way to go about solving the privacy issue. As he told SearchNetworking, “There are similarities between the data in media systems and the data in activity systems. At Greenwave we think about them in a similar way and arrive with a similar security strategy. Bur instead of calling it data, we call it ‘content.'”

That new perspective presents a unique approach to data. “If you think of data as content you can create the same types of contracts that regulate how content can be consumed.” To that extent, Hunter says, sharing content now becomes more of a personal decision. “Who do you share your camera or door lock with? This can help reduce data privacy concerns,” he said.

Another key point: Many companies neglect to include security when designing a new product. They don’t see how security impacts the business. To Hunter, partnering with software providers that provide security applications to a device should be a logical step in the production process.

Hunter offers one way to deal with this new data privacy issue, but other companies are working on other strategies. The most important thing is to be aware of is the impact that IoT will have on data privacy and how stronger security measures can be beneficial to both the consumer and to business.