Upon closer examination, the revised policy outlines a comprehensive data collection process that goes beyond the typical information required for creating an account. While standard details such as name, age, address, and email are expected, Samsung’s policy takes it a step further by stating it will also collect credit card information, third-party service usernames and passwords, photos, contacts, text logs, and even voice recordings generated during voice commands.
The revelation that Samsung can store chat transcripts, contacts, and voice recordings has drawn parallels to past controversies, such as when Apple faced backlash over third-party contractors listening to audio recordings from Siri requests. The potential for such sensitive information to be accessed by external parties has understandably raised concerns among users.
In addition to personal data, Samsung also employs various tracking methods, including cookies, pixels, and web beacons, to monitor users’ general activity. While the company claims these measures aim to enhance user experience and streamline services, it leaves users with a sense of being closely watched. The tracking encompasses a broad spectrum of information, ranging from IP addresses and device models to websites visited and apps downloaded.
The policy acknowledges users’ discomfort with default tracking and advises adjusting privacy settings accordingly. However, this does little to assuage concerns, considering the extensive range of data being collected. Samsung asserts that this information serves various purposes, including ad delivery, communication with customers, service improvement, fraud prevention, and compliance with legal requirements. The policy also grants the company the right to share user information with subsidiaries, affiliates, business partners, third parties, and law enforcement.
The most alarming revelations come from the “Notice to California Residents” section, where biometric information is mentioned. Though not explicitly explained, the entry suggests that Samsung collects data from face and fingerprint scans, a departure from the traditional storage of such information on the device itself. This has sparked additional concerns regarding the security and privacy of biometric data.
Furthermore, the section discloses that Samsung may have sold user data, including device identifiers, purchase histories, and network activity, to third parties in the 12 months leading up to the policy update. This revelation may not come as a shock to some, as data trading has become a common practice among tech companies. However, it does shed light on the extent of data monetization within Samsung’s operations.
While the updated policy has triggered a wave of discontent among users, some argue that this isn’t entirely new for Samsung. A comparison with a version from January 1, 2021, reveals that many of the concerning policies, including the collection of biometric data, were already in place. This underscores that Samsung’s data collection practices have been consistent, even if they are only now gaining widespread attention.
In response to the backlash, a Reddit user highlighted the redundancy of privacy violations, pointing out that Samsung’s affiliation with Android means users are dealing with two companies, Samsung and Google, with access to their personal data. This raises valid concerns about the cumulative impact of privacy policies from both entities.
For those who remain loyal to Samsung’s innovative devices, there is a counterpoint – users can take control of their privacy settings. By delving into device settings and maximizing privacy options, users can mitigate some of the default tracking and data collection. While it may not transform a Samsung device into an impervious fortress of data security, users can exercise more control over their personal information than the default settings allow.