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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Google calls Nest's hidden microphone an 'error' - CNET


"Google's line of Nest Secure had microphones, but you wouldn't know that from the product's specs or the company itself.

It became apparent after Feb. 4, when Google announced that its voice assistant would be coming to Nest Secure. The microphone has never been listed on Nest Secure's technical specifications, and was not publicized from Google. 

In a statement first reported by Business Insider, Google said the omission was a mistake.

"The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part. The microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option," a Google spokesperson said in an email to CNET.

The spokesperson added that Nest Secure had the microphone for future features like detecting the sound of glass breaking.

The omission strikes as a privacy concern for many, as the microphone has been on Nest's home security hub since 2017. Google has also been in hot water over privacy issues, facing a $57 million fine in Europe for violating the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation.

The tech giant was also slammed for its location data tracking practices, along with allowing third-party developers to read people's emails on Gmail.

Last September, Google's chief privacy officer Keith Enright told the Senate Commerce Committee that the company has made mistakes on privacy issues. The hidden microphone is Google's latest error in privacy.

Correction: The microphone was on Nest Secure's home security hub, not its cameras. 

Originally published at 7:15 a.m. PT.

Updated at 7:34 a.m. PT: To include details on privacy issues and Google.

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Google calls Nest's hidden microphone an 'error' - CNET