in HIPAA Headlines by John Brewer

Did you know that the latest “smart” TVs from Samsung might just be listening in on you?

More specifically, these TVs actively listen.  Why?  Well, to make life easier for you of course.  You can’t be expect to click a few buttons can you?

What’s going on here?  Samsung has a line in their latest privacy policy that states “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”

Additionally Samsung clarified that “If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third party during a requested voice command search,”…and…”At that time, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV.”

Just like with Apple devices, that third party is Nuance, the Dragon Naturally speaking folks.

Does this matter?  It can.  If your voice capable TV is set to actively listen, mentioning PHI in front of that TV could send such PHI over unsecured internet connections to 3rd party servers.  You have no BAA with either of these entities.  You now, technically, have a PHI breach.

You need to be aware at the office AND at home, that this can be real issue.

Let’s look at the home situation: you have your new Samsung 63″ flat panel setup.

Voice activation is cool because you can say “tv, find football” then blamo, football.

While watching said football, your phone rings.  The office calling.  Patient Jane has some issues.

You discuss these issues with your usual detail.  Then you hang up and…whoa, what is all of this on the TV?

How did it search for that?
Why is her name up there?

Yep, it is that easy.

Other devices have similar capabilities that need to be addressed, which are (currently): Apple TV, Fire TV stick, also watch out for the Amazon Echo.


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