Nest/Tag Hartman-Simkins
What a Gaffe!

Google: Secret Nest Microphone “Never Intended to Be a Secret”

byDan Robitzski
2. 20. 19
Nest/Tag Hartman-Simkins

"That was an error on our part."

End of an Error

People who use Google’s home security device, Nest Guard, got some surprising news earlier this month when the company announced that the device could now be used as a smart assistant.

That was startling because Google Assistant devices use voice recognition, and the company had never disclosed that Nests had built-in microphones. Now the search giant is admitting they do — and saying its failure to mention the microphone was an “error.”

Telescreen

According to the spokesperson, the microphones were never enabled and had been added to Nest devices in case the company decided to implement sound-based features. The spokesperson described a hypothetical use to Business Insider in which a Nest Guard might detect the sound of broken glass during a break-in.

“The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs,” a Google spokesperson told Business Insider on Tuesday. “That was an error on our part.”

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Ministry of Search

Google has a fraught history with privacy advocates. In 2010, for instance, it got busted sweeping up Wi-Fi data with its Street View cars. And earlier this year, France fined the tech giant $57 million for privacy violations. And now, framing a secret microphone hidden in customers’ homes as an “error,” whether or not the microphone was active, doesn’t click.

Google acknowledging wrongdoing is a nice start, but there are no brownie points to be had for framing the company’s decision as an error only after it came to light anyway.

READ MORE: Google says the built-in microphone it never told Nest users about was ‘never supposed to be a secret’ [Business Insider]

More on Google: Google Wins Lawsuit Over Facial Recognition Technology

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