Google Forgets to Tell Consumers That Its Nest Security System Has a Built-in Mic

cageymaru

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Google recently announced that Google Assistant features are coming to its Nest Secure home security system. Giving consumers free features seems like a great idea, but Google forgot to list the microphone in the technical specifications for Nest Secure devices. Google says it was an "error" to not list the microphone in the tech specs. A Google spokesperson told Business Insider the microphone functionality was never enabled on the devices and was included to add additional features such as a glass breakage sensor at a later date.

On Tuesday, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider the company had made an "error." "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 spokesperson said. Google says that "the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option."
 

Viper16

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"we're sorry.....so sorry"

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I find it odd how something like that could get missed along throughout the whole design/manu/marketing, unless they didn't want people to know, and were afraid of the backlash that has been coming about on other devices.

They do work for the gov't in certain sectors right?
 

Exavior

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In a few weeks they will announce the other forgotten feature, the hidden camera that records everything that also was meant to really just be a built in motion sensor that they will turn on at a later date as a few feature. :p

Somebody at Google better start a program to start checking people for health issues and maybe check the building and vehicles for CO leaks. They "forgot" to swap out the certificates used for side loaded apps, they now forget to list features on products. Seem to be "forgetting" pretty major things here.
 

Oldmodder

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I have CCTV, have had that for nearly a decade now.
But i am using IP cameras and a NVR for storage, and the NVR are on a closed wired network with the cameras, which are all outward facing so no chance of seeing my naked ass prance around in my apartment.
Arnt the nest cameras the ones that get compromised again and again,,,,,, not that my NVR was any safer if hackers had access to it.
 

Dead Parrot

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Google says that "the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option."
Wonder if this option can be activated when your Nest is accessed via a hack as described in the article above this one?
A security system that can be used by bad folk to hear you announce "Everyone assemble so we can go out" and therefore know no one is home isn't very secure.
 

sleepeeg3

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Google's Home Nest Thermostat has a built in OPTICAL CAMERA (and likely microphone), in addition to the motion sensing capability. Can you please explain to me what the need of that is for?
 

Nunu

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At this rate people will need to evolve and communicate telepathically since everything seems to be listening in on them.
 

BSmith

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It really is a simple matter of not purchasing anything that is associated with Alphabet/Google. Tada!

As long as our privacy laws are as loosy-goosy as they are, then that seems to be the only option available. Just stop supporting those companies.
 

zehoo

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But its HUAWEI you should be worried about...
It's a bit of a no win situation really.

There's always the Librem 5 by Purism, but then that thing has been pushed back a few times now. And then you miss out on a lot of apps.
 

RanceJustice

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We shouldn't HAVE to go back to an analog approach like HeadRusch's picture above just to maintain our privacy. This is one of of the most frustrating things about our current techno-economic status and a major problem for the future. There is lots of cool "Internet of Things" technology that could have some real benefits, IF they were made solely with the benefit to the owner in mind. However, they're rarely implemented this way - instead its a "cloud" controlled proprietary whatsit that leaks data all over the bloody place. None of this is necessary for the actual functionality! It would be fully possible to have devices powered by open source software including whatever local server you may wish to run; of course, they could also sell little pre-fab "home automation centers box" PCs or whatnot for those who are not technically inclined or want to install it on their own hardware. The worst thing is that Google / Alphabet really makes some nice software/hardware - they don't NEED to be evil, I'd happily pay a subscription to fee to use their services/devices if they were truly open (source), user-focused, privacy respecting, and didn't use data for anything but providing me services I'm asking for and then purging it when no longer necessary...but there's no option for such a thing.

Stuff like this does exist - check out OpenHAB https://www.openhab.org/ for home automation and Mycroft (https://mycroft.ai/) a REALLY promising voice assistant alternative to Google, Amazon and Apple etc. Sure for those who care and are technically adroit we can find compatible hardware and roll our own - which is nice - but it shouldn't be this difficult. Nest cameras/doorbells/ etc... should not be solely controlled via the "cloud" somewhere, and hardware shouldn't be primarily supporting these proprietary integrations.

Anyone who goes to their home goods store or online can find Nest devices and whatnot, but if you want to find top quality (or even Nest parallel) hardware that supports OpenHAB or even LAN monitoring etc... you'll have to do your research. OpenHAB for instance has some really impressive compatibility across the board which is great, but in the case of items like Nest (which they support through the Nest API) it still requires a connection to Nest's servers as opposed to keeping things local! This is not OpenHAB's "fault" but how Nest devices require it. Of course using OpenHAB in this way is probably a better solution than using their proprietary applications directly, but it just highlights how users must spend extra time finding hardware that doesn't act in such a way.
 
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msshammy

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I don't pretend to know much about the legal side of things.. But wouldn't something like that have to be disclosed during patent/copyright?

I guess as the saying goes and companies are doing crap like this more and more (Facebook) that it's easier to apologize than to ask permission.

I had a home security system a few years back. AFTER it was installed and everything was all said and done, THEN they told me my pad had a built in mic for emergency assistance. Stated that if one of us were to fall or get hurt we could yell and they would send somebody to help. I asked why thy were always listening. They told me they weren't. So I asked them to explain how that was even possible lol. All I got was a blank stare.

Needless to say I had them remove the system right then and there.
 

AtomClock

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In all my years... I have found that if the package doesn't EXPLICITLY say that the feature / functionality is included then IT IS NOT included. Having a microphone included and NOT listed is clearly intentional. To get right to the point. This is nothing less than a hidden listening device planted by google in your home! This should warrant a criminal investigation. I thought it was illegal to place listening devices in someone's home.
 

Grimlaking

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In all my years... I have found that if the package doesn't EXPLICITLY say that the feature / functionality is included then IT IS NOT included. Having a microphone included and NOT listed is clearly intentional. To get right to the point. This is nothing less than a hidden listening device planted by google in your home! This should warrant a criminal investigation. I thought it was illegal to place listening devices in someone's home.
I bet the NSA or FBI doesn't allow google devices on the floor. Shit like this is why. Same with Alexa Devices. Hell they didn't allow furbies on the floor before. This should be interesting. Dd someone with top secret clearance get a nest... and how long has it been listening when the end user had every expectation that they were secure? I wonder how many secrets have been leaked due to undocumented microphones being turned on.
 

eclypse

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Samsung has the same crap in there smart TV's as well.. that's why no smart TV really turns off when you turn them off! Always listening! Have to pull the TV power plug to kill the power.
 

dgz

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It really is a simple matter of not purchasing anything that is associated with Alphabet/Google. Tada!

As long as our privacy laws are as loosy-goosy as they are, then that seems to be the only option available. Just stop supporting those companies.
Sometimes you don't have a choice.

I work for a company that's pretty invested in the cloud. A few months ago I noticed my workstation's chrome has changed a bit since the update. There was a funny icon at the upper corner that I wasn't familiar with. Moving my cursor over it revealed my first and last names. Yes, I was logged into my browser.

I'd never knowingly log into my browser and asked around. Many couldn't tell the difference because they are android slaves. But some acknowledged the major fuck up. Eventually it was fixed, of course.

What would you do? It's not like I could sue and come up as a winner.
 

DocNo

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BSmith

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Sometimes you don't have a choice.

I work for a company that's pretty invested in the cloud. A few months ago I noticed my workstation's chrome has changed a bit since the update. There was a funny icon at the upper corner that I wasn't familiar with. Moving my cursor over it revealed my first and last names. Yes, I was logged into my browser.

I'd never knowingly log into my browser and asked around. Many couldn't tell the difference because they are android slaves. But some acknowledged the major fuck up. Eventually it was fixed, of course.

What would you do? It's not like I could sue and come up as a winner.
You always have a choice. It may not be a good choice, but there is a choice. Me? I would have fought tooth and nail against going to cloud services. Failing that, I would have quit. Easy-peasy.
 

dgz

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You always have a choice. It may not be a good choice, but there is a choice. Me? I would have fought tooth and nail against going to cloud services. Failing that, I would have quit. Easy-peasy.
Thanks for your input. I fought and lost many fights, that's why I am leaving. Easy peasy indeed
 

dgz

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che

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I carry a microphone around all day, it is in my phone. I'd worry about that before something this silly.
 

DCookSta

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I carry a microphone around all day, it is in my phone. I'd worry about that before something this silly.
Sure, but you know it's here. Not hidden as a feature they "forgot" about. Maybe this is silly to you because the device is small, but the reality of this is much larger.
 

exlink

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Sure, but you know it's here. Not hidden as a feature they "forgot" about. Maybe this is silly to you because the device is small, but the reality of this is much larger.
How is the fact that it has a microphone something that is "hidden"? You literally TALK to it. How else is it supposed to work in that way?
 

DCookSta

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How is the fact that it has a microphone something that is "hidden"? You literally TALK to it. How else is it supposed to work in that way?
I was replying to the post implying the cell phones with mics are with us everyday and this nest device with undocumented listening features was not as bad. We may not know when/if the mics on our phones are on outside of using the phone, but we know they are there. Is a average person gonna sniff packets on their network to verify the nest isn't using its undocumented features?
 
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