Feb 20, 2019

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

Ina Fried, author of Login

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

Go deeper

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Minnesota activates National Guard amid fallout from George Floyd death

A portrait of George Floyd hangs on a street light pole in Minneapolis. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

George Floyd, 46, moved to Minnesota to improve his life and become his "best self," but instead, he is dead because of Minneapolis police.

The latest: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz declared a state of emergency and activated the state's National Guard in response to violent clashes over the past two days between police and protesters in the Twin Cities.

Trump signs executive order targeting protections for social media platforms

President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday designed to limit the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for the content users post on their platforms.

What they're saying: "Currently, social media giants like Twitter receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they are a neutral platform, which they are not," Trump said in the Oval Office. "We are fed up with it. It is unfair, and it's been very unfair."