Samsung apps and services now at the center of a privacy controversy

Ewdison Then - Jan 9, 2020, 8:19pm CST
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Samsung apps and services now at the center of a privacy controversy

Despite all of the privacy issues that have hounded major tech companies including Facebook, Google, Huawei, and even Apple, Samsung has so far remained out of that kind of news. That wasn’t going to last forever, though, and as they say, when it rains, it pours. Samsung now finds itself with not one but three separate pieces of news that may make some think twice about using Samsung’s mobile apps and cloud services, even if they may not be avoidable in some cases.

XDA’s Max Weinbach expressed his surprise and disappointment at the discovery of an option for Samsung Pay to stop selling data to Samsung partners. This privacy setting was not present before but implies that it has actually been set to “yes” by default before the company was forced by California laws to be upfront about it. In other words, Samsung may have been selling your (hopefully non-critical) Samsung Pay data to third parties for years without your knowledge.

You might not be that shocked considering the advertising opportunities in Samsung Pay but few would probably expect Samsung’s own Device Care utility to be just as privacy-invasive. Unfortunately, that was almost the case with the app’s ability to scan your storage for junk data, a feature powered by Chinese security company Qihoo 360. Fortunately, Samsung insists that only generic data needed to optimize storage is sent to the third-party and nothing that would identify a file.

Of course, that depends on how much you trust Samsung’s word and some Korean celebrities might no longer do. Almost mirroring the iCloudGate of 2014, several high-profile Korean personalities have had their Samsung Cloud accounts hacked and the data used for extortion. As with the Apple case, two-factor authentication could have helped secure those accounts but Samsung has not made it easy to set that up.

These revelations come at a time when Samsung is making an even more aggressive push to have a presence in all aspects of modern life beyond smartphones. At CES 2020, it has unveiled both products and concepts that would put its devices, technologies, and services in living rooms, kitchens, and even cars. Which, in the end, would mean it would have a lot more data it could leak or sell if users aren’t looking.


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