Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Google Says Previously-Undisclosed Microphone in Nest Secure Devices Was ‘Never Supposed to Be a Secret’

Nick Bastone, Business Insider:

In early February, Google announced that its home security and alarm system Nest Secure would be getting an update — users could now enable its virtual assistant technology, Google Assistant.

The problem: Nest users didn’t know a microphone even existed on their security device to begin with.

The existence of a microphone on the Nest Guard (which is the alarm, keypad, and motion sensor component in the Nest Secure offering) was never disclosed in any of the product material for the device.

On Tuesday, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider the company had made an “error.”

I completely believe Google here; a deliberate failure to acknowledge an embedded microphone would be monumentally stupid to a degree they don’t usually approach. Of course, deciding which of Google and Facebook are better on privacy is a bit like trying to decide which species of flesh-eating bacteria is more wonderful to have, but Google isn’t quite the “digital gangster” that Facebook is.

Nevertheless, this is the kind of thing that makes me paranoid of smart home devices. If I owned one of these things and found out that the world’s biggest advertising company hid a microphone in my home for a year, I’d be livid. Wouldn’t anyone?