Earlier this month, Google announced the Nest Secure wizard, as well as the fact that Nest Guard contains a microphone. According to Google, this feature was "never supposed to be a secret," but the lack of transparency in the company provoked a public outcry over privacy. The most recent one involves the US Senate sending a letter to Sundar Pichai asking for more details.
As its name indicates, technology and the protection of consumer privacy fall under the purview of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. February 25th (via Internal business), the Senate has "serious questions about [Google’s] commitment to transparency and disclosure by the consumer "after failing to reveal that Nest Secure contained a microphone at launch.
In recent years, consumers have become increasingly concerned about the ability of large technology companies to collect and use their personal data without their knowledge. Therefore, it is essential that companies such as Google are completely transparent to consumers and fully disclose all the technical specifications of their products at the point of sale.
In view of its supervisory role, the Committee raises the fear (fifth question) that "hackers or other outside entities could have activated the microphone to illegally store information", even if it had been "disabled by default "from Google.
The first two questions are intended to provide a clearer picture of the timeline of events that led to the inclusion of a microphone, and that Nest does not disclose the microphone in the technical specifications. Last week, Google explained how the microphone was intended for security functions such as the detection of broken glass.
1) Has a microphone always been part of the Nest Secure home and security system?
2) When and how did Google learn that a microphone was not listed in the Nest Secure technical specifications available to consumers?
The next asks what Google does to inform consumers. Since last Wednesday, the Nest.com specification page has been updated, but the Google Store listing has not been explicitly changed. In addition, the fourth question asks Google to detail what exactly happened and the measures taken to "prevent such an error from happening again".
3) What are Google doing to inform Nest Secure device buyers?
contains a microphone undisclosed before?
4) Please describe the process of developing Google's technical specifications for its products. At what point in this process did the error cause the missing microphone in the Nest Secure device? Has Google taken steps to prevent such an error from being repeated in the technical specifications of other Google products?
5) Is Google aware or has it already known about a third party using Nest Secure?
microphone for unauthorized purposes?
6) Is Google aware of similar omissions in the technical specifications of any other
A written answer to all six questions is expected by 12 March at the latest. An in-person briefing is requested by March 29th. Overall, these questions should give a clearer idea of what happened beyond "a mistake [Google’s] part. "More generally, this whole thing should allow a better overhaul of Google practices in terms of confidentiality of materials.
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