Congress Slams Google Over Hidden Nest Mic
US Congress is demanding answers from Google Chief Executive, Sundar Pichai, after Senate slammed the tech giant for failing to disclose a ‘hidden’ camera within its Nest Security system.
The Senate letter raised six critical questions, including whether the undercover mic was accessible by a third-party.
“Is Google aware or has Google ever been aware of any third party using the Nest Secure microphone for any unauthorized purpose?” the letter reads.
Other questions query if Google was aware the mic wasn’t listed to Nest Secure technical specifications, addressing its commitment to consumer transparency.
Last week, Google admitted the on-device mic was “never intended to be a secret” and should have been listed to product specs.
Mr Pichai has until March 12 to respond to the Senate’s letter, complemented by an in-person briefing later that month.
The news broke after announcing Google Assistant would now work on Nest security devices – a feature dependent on an in-built microphone, not listed to specifications.The product in question was the ‘Nest Guard’, one of the Nest Secure range of products. Nest’s alarm and motion sensor will also support Google Assistant.
“In recent years, consumers have become increasingly concerned about the ability of large technology companies to collect and use personal data about them without their knowledge,” reads the Senate letter.
“Therefore, it is critically important that companies like Google be completely transparent with consumers, and provide full disclosure of all technical specifications of their products at the point of sale.”