Feb 20, 2019

Google says Nest microphone "was never intended to be a secret"

A Nest home surveillance camera. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Google said Tuesday that it should have disclosed to buyers of its Nest Secure system that the product contained a microphone, albeit one that had not yet been put to any use.

Why it matters: In this day and age, consumers should expect to know the audio and video recording capabilities of the devices they buy. There have been a number of examples of devices inadvertently recording users, and there's also concern that either hackers or the government might use such devices to eavesdrop.

Details: Google had announced earlier this month that it would offer the ability to use Google Assistant on the device, tapping the previously undisclosed microphone.

  • "The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs," a Google representative told Axios in a statement.
  • Google confirmed it is the policy of both Nest and Google to disclose if a device has a microphone regardless if it's used.

Go deeper: Rogue Alexa recorded family's conversation, shipped it to a contact

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China tries to contain coronavirus, as Apple warns of earnings impact

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

As China pushes to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus — placing around 780 million people under travel restrictions, per CNN — the economic repercussions continue to be felt globally as companies like Apple warn of the impact from the lack of manufacturing and consumer demand in China.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,775 people and infected more than 70,000 others, mostly in mainland China. There are some signs that new cases are growing at a slower rate now, although the World Health Organization said Monday it's "too early to tell" if this will continue.

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Apple will miss quarterly earnings estimates due to coronavirus

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple issued a rare earnings warning on Monday, saying it would not meet quarterly revenue expectations due to the impact of the coronavirus, which will limit iPhone production and limit product demand in China.

Why it matters: Lots of companies rely on China for production, but unlike most U.S. tech companies, Apple also gets a significant chunk of its revenue from sales in China.

America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.