Warning: *privacy not included with this product
Samsung Galaxy Buds
Review date: Nov. 8, 2021
Samsung offers many versions of their Galaxy earbuds. There's the Buds2, Buds Pro, Buds Live, and Buds+. That's a lot of Buds. And these tiny earbuds come in lots of shiny colors. They do the things earbuds do: sound good, cancel noise, let in ambient noise if you want, pair with a phone or computer over Bluetooth, get lost easily. You can use the Find My Earbuds feature in the app to help find them, but only if they are already connected to your phone, so don't lose these little guys if their battery is dead or you're more than 32 feet away.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Not gonna lie, it sure seems Samsung likes to collect a lot of data on users, share (and possibly sell) that data around lots of places, and make it hard for you to figure out how to opt-out of that data sharing.
Your dogged privacy researcher spent quite a lot of time on Samsung’s website trying to understand how to opt-out under their “Do Not Sell” option as part of California’s privacy law called CCPA. It was clunky and complicated and she was never quite clear if she succeeded or not. Samsung does extend the rights that protect users under CCPA to all of the United States, which is good. And Samsung users in Europe are protected by their privacy protection law, GDPR, to a degree.
What could go wrong? Well, Samsung likes to show ads tailored to you through various ad networks, and say they do a lot of tracking of your online activities to do so. These headphones come with a voice assistant named Bixby that will listen for your voice commands. Samsung may use your interactions with Bixby to learn more about you and then target you with ads or share this data with others who may use it to target you. That means it's possible you could ask Bixby to play lots of sappy love songs over and over. Marketers could use this information to target you with ads for very expensive engagement rings. Then love sick you spends way too much money on a ring for your significant other and you get turned down, leaving you poor and heartbroken. OK, this is probably not likely, but also not impossible in our digital ad economy.
Tips to protect yourself
- Consider using your headphones without connecting it to an app. This way, you may decrease the amount of data collected
Can it snoop on me?
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Name, email, phone number, date of birth, gender
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
In February, 2020, Samsung had a data breach on it UK customer account pages, affecting less than 150 people.
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
Samsung has a bug bounty program. https://security.samsungmobile.com/rewardsProgram.smsb
If a user uses Bixby, a Samsung-specific AI-assistant, or Google Assistant
Is this AI untrustworthy?
What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?
Voice recognition, if a user uses Bixby, a Samsung-specific AI-assistant, or Google Assistant
Is the company transparent about how the AI works?
Does the user have control over the AI features?
Samsung cops to data leak after unsolicited '1/1' Find my Mobile push notificationThe Register
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