The public always tends to have some level of mistrust against giant conglomerates. After all, these organizations are all about maximizing shareholder returns. The general perception that people get is that conglomerates will do everything they need to in order to achieve that goal, regardless of how their actions might impact people.
Samsung, like many other companies in this market, collects a lot of data. The company’s policy indicates that it collects identifying information such as name, date of birth, gender, IP address, location, payment information, website activities, and more. The company also highlights that this data is collected to prevent fraud and protect users’ identities as well to comply with legal requirements, meaning that the data may be shared with law enforcement if legally requested.
Samsung’s policy also mentions that this data may be shared with its subsidiaries and affiliates in addition to third-party service providers. It does prevent these service providers from disclosing your data further unnecessarily. Much of this data is shared with service providers for serving ads, cross-site tracking, etc.
This includes geolocation data, information from the various sensors in your device, internet browsing and search history. Biometric information is also obtained, this may include data from fingerprint and face scans, but Samsung doesn’t go into much detail abou what it does with the bioemtric information collected from users.
It just highlights the problem that people don’t really take an interest in what tech companies may be doing with their data until some sections are cherry-picked and presented for generating outrage, even though the same policies have been in place for years. There’s no need to be outraged by this now, but that doesn’t mean Samsung can’t do a better job of being more open about its collection and use of data.
Its track record leaves much to be desired. In early 2020 after the California Consumer Privacy Act was passed, Samsung had to add a new toggle in Samsung Pay to let users disable the selling of their personal data to Samsung Pay partners. That was the first time that most people found out that Samsung Pay could sell their data to partners.
Samsung just needs to do a better job of explaining how some of the most sensitive data that it’s collecting is utilized. Take fingerprints as an example. They’re stored on a secure enclave on the chip and protected by Samsung Knox. The policy mentions that Samsung may “collect” biometric information. It’s “collecting” your fingerprint data when you’re setting up the feature, how could Knox secure something that hasn’t been “collected” in the first place? There’s also no compulsion to use any biometric recognition feature if you’d prefer not to.
Data is gold for tech companies and they will always be hungry for it. That’s the reality of the world we live in now. Not many have the capability to live their entire life off the grid. It’s just not possible. Remember, Samsung phones run Android and Google sucks up an incredible amount of data through its apps and services on your phone. Every time you use YouTube or the Gmail app on your device, data is being sent back to Google.
Every social network on your phone thrives on the data that you create. So does every game, health and fitness app, streaming service, etc. Every website is tracking you. The expectation of complete privacy in the digital age is futile. We’re exchanging data for services that improve our lives. Whether that trade-off is fair or not is another matter entirely.