In September 2017, Google launched Nest Secure, a home security and alarm system that features Android and iOS app monitoring.
For greater functionality, Google announced earlier this month that Assistant is coming to Nest.
However, users were not informed at any point that the Nest Secure included a hidden microphone.
As discovered by Business Insider, the Nest Secure’s ‘Guard’ alarm and keypad component actually contains a microphone that was never disclosed in any product materials or other statements from Google.
In a statement to Business Insider, a Google representative acknowledged that the company made a mistake with the Nest Secure.
“The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs,” the Google representative told Business Insider. “That was an error on our part.”
The representative added that “the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option.” Instead, the microphone was originally included as a means of adding new security features in the future, including the ability to detect broken glass.
Regardless of intention, Google’s lack of transparency surrounding Nest Secure comes at a time when consumers are growing increasingly concerned about major corporations violating their privacy. Earlier this year, Google was fined $57 million USD (roughly 74.9 million CAD) by France for allegedly failing to provide “easily accessible” data policies.
Meanwhile, Facebook continues to be scrutinized following its role in the Cambridge Analytica data breach that affected over 87 million users. Even Netflix has recently come under fire from a British technology policy researcher, who criticized the streaming giant for not being upfront about the data it collects from people making choices in the Black Mirror: Bandersnatch interactive film.
Source: Business Insider