GOOGLE IS TO BE QUESTIONED by the US Senate after its Nest division failed to declare a microphone in the specifications of its alarm system.
Nest Secure was released last year, but nowhere in the documentation was it mentioned that the base unit, Nest Guard has a microphone. The first anyone knew was when Nest proudly announced the arrival of Google Assistant to the device last month.
Now, senators have summoned Google's CEO Sundar Pichai to explain what the heck the company thought it was doing.
At the time, Google called the omission an "error" and has since added the existence of the microphone to its specs and user guide, but this hasn't satisfied the Senate, which has clearly decided that in the current culture of distrust over privacy, that scrutiny should begin at home.
Pichai will appear on Capitol Hill on March 12th, where he will be asked:
- If the microphone has always been part of the specs of Nest Secure
- How long ago Google realised that the microphone wasn't listed
- What is Google doing to tell existing users that the microphone is there
- What the breakdown in the process was that allowed the omission to get to market
- If Google is aware of anyone abusing the microphone
- Are all its other products compliant?
Google has always insisted that the microphone was never activated, and will remain dormant unless Google Assistant is activated, however, the Senate has concerns that even if Google hasn't abused the microphone, a third party could.
After all - Nest is not whiter than white with security. Only last month a hacker broke into a Nest camera and convinced a Bay Area family that a nuclear attack by North Korea was incoming - and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Nest Secure is yet to launch outside the US, and when it does, you can be sure that Google will make a big deal of the microphone existing to avoid any further questions.
Google has said that the Nest mic could be used in the future to listen for events such as other sirens sounding and glass breaking, which could indicate a security breach in the home, but nothing has been activated yet. μ
Some deliberately, others through stupidity
Quite the business expense
It's another quantum leap camera
Evolution, not revolution, but that's just fine