Google Nest Camera, Has Hidden Microphone Investigators Reveal
Investigators have discovered that a Google Nest device being sold by Australian retailers has a secret microphone built into its base.
The device which can only now be voice controlled has no mention of the secret microphone either in the specs for the device or on any packaging or marketing material when it was sold as a camera only.
The secret microphone was discovered after Google introduced a software update allowing users to control the Nest devices with their voices.
A spokesman said: ‘The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part.’
The tech firm added that the microphone was never switched on prior to the software update, but that it included the feature in order to have the potential to pick up the sound of glass breaking.
‘Security systems often use microphones to provide features that rely on sound sensing,’ a spokesman added.
‘We included the mic on the device so that we can potentially offer additional features to our users in the future, such as the ability to detect broken glass.’
The Nest Security alarm system containing a microphone has been sold throughout the US but is yet to go on sale in Europe.
According to the UK Daily Mail security campaigners in Britain said that the scandal confirmed many of its worst fears.
Silkie Carlo, director of the privacy lobby group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This appears to be deceptive rather than a ‘mistake’, which is incredibly damaging for public trust in Google. Many of our worries about smart home devices appear to be proving true.
‘This market is normalising the disturbing notion of tech giants constant listening within the privacy of our homes. Google should be held to account for wrongly advertising this product.’
She added: ‘It is hard to believe Google cares about people’s privacy after selling a security product with a secret microphone in it.’
The revelation that Nest Security contains a hidden microphone is not the first time that Google’s smart home devices have come under fire.
Last year, a so-called ‘white hat’– a hacker who sets out to do good – managed to take control of another man’s Nest Security device. The white hat then warned him about the breach by using the device to speak directly into his home.
Meanwhile, a mother in New York found that her Nest home monitoring system was hacked by a stranger – who started talking to her five-year-old son.