Surveillance

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

Nest secure system camera
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.

Expert Voices

Competitors worry that China is using Belt and Road for political gain

China's President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak during the welcome ceremony for the Belt and Road Forum
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during an event in 2017. Photo: Roman Pilipey/AFP via Getty Images

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) suffered a major setback this month when the Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese infrastructure projects were inflated to help bail out Malaysia’s state development fund. The Malaysia affair, in which several big projects were pursued for political rather than economic reasons, is just one of 17 cases cited in a new U.S. Department of Defense report that argues China's BRI "serves a greater strategic purpose" than advertised.

The big picture: According to the report, China is using infrastructure and other ostensibly commercial projects through the BRI to help promote Chinese standards in everything from 5G networks to satellite services. As the BRI proceeds, China's partners are taking a closer look at its economic risks, and China's competitors are scrutinizing its strategic implications.

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