​Hidden microphone in Nest Guard wasn’t secret, says Google

It's a privacy nightmare

Nest Guard has hidden microphone
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Google is facing heat over its disclosure that a microphone exists inside its Nest Guard home security product, which wasn’t listed among the original specs.

The trouble started as the company announced that Google Assistant would work on its Nest security devices. However, that would clearly require the presence of a microphone for voice commands ­– but one was never included on the original specs, and users of Guard have been living with a “secret” microphone inside their homes.

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"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," a Google spokesperson said, in an attempt to dampen outcry over privacy.

It’s not unreasonable that a microphone would be placed in a security product such as Nest Guard. Similar devices will listen out for sounds like breaking glass, and it seems that Google was planning to add that feature at a later date. But it’s certainly suspicious that the most contentious feature of Guard was omitted from all marketing materials, and does little to assuage fears over tech giants using devices to “spy” on users.

Nest has been out in the cold at Google for the last few years, but it was absorbed back into the company in 2018 – as the smart home becomes a serious focus.

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