Wik­iLeaks adds to Samsung headaches

New Straits Times - - Business / World - Bloomberg

For a com­pany that has been mired in neg­a­tive head­lines for months, just about the last thing Samsung Elec­tron­ics Co needed was news its smart tele­vi­sions (TVs) could be used to spy on users.

Ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments re­leased by Wik­iLeaks, that is ex­actly what the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency did with a pro­gramme called “Weep­ing An­gel”.

In essence, it uses a tele­vi­sion’s mi­cro­phone, a fea­ture de­signed to al­low voice com­mands, to pick up and trans­mit in­for­ma­tion while the de­vice ap­pears to be switched off.

While Samsung wasn’t the only com­pany named in the Wik­iLeaks doc­u­ments — Ap­ple Inc and Google also got a men­tion — it’s still a prob­lem for the South Korean gi­ant.

The maker of Gal­axy smart­phones has been strug­gling to re­cover from the de­ba­cle of ex­plod­ing Note 7 smart­phones that have cost it bil­lions of dol­lars while heir ap­par­ent Jay Y. Lee is set to stand trial on charges of bribery and em­bez­zle­ment in an in­flu­ence-ped­dling scan­dal. The trial starts to­day.

“This can’t be good, with some dam­age al­ready done to its global pro­file re­cently,” said Hwang Jang-sun, a pro­fes­sor who spe­cialises in com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Seoul’s Chung-Ang Univer­sity.

“Con­sumers could feel they are risk­ing their per­sonal se­cu­rity when they con­sider buy­ing Samsung TVs. What mat­ters ul­ti­mately though is whether Samsung was aware or not and blame could shift de­pend­ing on fu­ture find­ings.”

Samsung said the com­pany was aware of the Wik­iLeaks re­port and was ur­gently look­ing into the mat­ter.

BLOOMBERG PIC

Ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments re­leased by Wik­iLeaks, Samsung’s smart tele­vi­sions can be used to spy on users.

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