A built-in microphone to its alarm / motion sensor / Nest Guard keyboard was not supposed to be a secret, Google said after announcing Google's support for the Nest Secure system. (Photo11: Nest)
The revelation made by Google earlier this month that Google Assistant could be used with the security of his home and his Nest alarm system was a surprise.
Why? Because the Nest Guard Alarm / Motion Detector / Keyboard has never listed a built-in microphone.
Google admitted that it had not listed by microphone error in the technical specifications of the product. His updated product page now mentions one.
"The built-in microphone to the device has never been designed to be a secret and should have been included in the technical specifications – it's an error on our part," said Google in a statement to USA TODAY.
"The microphone has never been activated and is activated only when users specifically activate the option," the statement said. "Security systems often use microphones to provide sound detection-based features, and we've included the microphone on the device so that we can potentially offer additional features to our users in the future, such as than the ability to detect broken glass. "
The Google Ad, reported for the first time by Business Insider, comes as consumers increasingly discover that their privacy is compromised by technology. Last month, Apple announced that a FaceTime bug allowed users to listen to their conversations even if they did not respond to a group chat request. And Facebook is still shocked by the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which personal data of about 87 million Americans have been exposed to manipulations for political purposes during the 2016 elections.
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Google Nest has not avoided its concerns either. Last week, Nest security system users received emails requiring them to update their passwords and suggested turning on two-factor authentication after hackers took over. control of domestic security cameras – and scared a family with a false alarm regarding an impending nuclear attack in North Korea.
Google, which acquired Nest for $ 3.2 billion in 2014, announced the Google Assistant update for the Nest Guard product in a blog two weeks ago. The update would allow users to arm their system with their voice and control other products such as a Nest Thermostat and door locks.
"The Google Assistant on Nest Guard is an activation feature and, as this feature becomes available to our users, they will receive an email with instructions to enable this feature and help you." 39, activate the microphone in the Nest app, "says the company said. "Nest Guard has a built-in microphone on the device that is not enabled by default."
Security and privacy experts have expressed concerns about Google's statement at the time. Nest users had been able to use Google Assistant, but they needed a separate device compatible with Google Assistant to hear commands, the CSO security site said at the time. "I guess it depends on your point of view, whether you're happy or not, that your security system secretly has an undocumented microphone that can listen from start to finish," he said. he declares.
This is not the first time that Google is facing criticism. In August, the Associated Press reported that apps such as Google Maps would record location data stamped, even if location history was turned off.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital advocacy group, shared their views on Nest's development on Wednesday: "No product should have a secret microphone, whether it's on or off. No, it's a bad concept of security. "
Follow the USA TODAY reporter, Mike Snider, on Twitter: @ MikeSnider.
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