In a strange series of events, Google has announced that the Nest Home Secure system also contains a MIC. The fact that is both weird and disturbing is that Google didn’t inform the users about it.
In a statement the giants have stated that there is absolutely nothing to worry about the MIC in the system. Google also stated that the inclusion of a MIC was “never intended to be a secret”. This incident adds to the list of privacy issues by one of the leaders in the industry. It is even more interesting to note that the specifications of the product had no information about the MIC when the sale began in the falls of 2017. Even the new specifications in January failed to provide any information about the same.
In their justification Google said, “The microphone hasn’t been active since launch, and people have to specifically enable it going forward.” This is surely not the first issue when Google has been in “hot waters” over the security issues. Earlier this year Google was accused of tracking the location of the users through its apps, that too when the users denied the tracking access. Google has mentioned that there is absolutely nothing to worry about the surprise “microphone”. Realising it’s mistake Google has even gone its way to apologise to the users.
The popping up of this privacy issue would surely lead to Google facing some outrage and actions besides the anger and disappointment of the users with the brand. A non profit organisation of Washington D.C that aims at privacy issues, has asked the FTC to “commence an enforcement action against Google with an aim of divesting the company of Nest and requiring also that Google disgorge the data it wrongfully obtained from Nest customers.” These extracts have been obtained as from the copy of the letter posted on EPIC’s website.
In a statement Google have also stated that,” The on-device microphone was never intended to 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.”
For all the non-tech savvy people Nest was acquired for $3.2 billion in 2014 by Google. It deals in the selling of doorbells, security cameras, and thermostats that automatically adjust settings based on user behaviour. Alphabet has merged Nest, which has primarily operated as an independent unit, into its Google hardware group last year. It is surely disheartening news to come across and that too on the part of a tech giant of the industry.
It is surely not the first and the last case of privacy issues. Many issues have popped up in the recent past. Recently even the Singapore Airlines faced rahe when it was discovered that the entertainment systems of the flight had in built microphones in them. It is surely high time when the companies and brands start taking the privacy of its users seriously and these privacy issues are taken into control.