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Nest Goes Home To Google, Data Security Concerns Raised

Nest the smart home appliance maker, whose products have recently started appearing in JB Hi Fi stores is set to be moved back into Google’s mainstream hardware operation, as a result there are major concerns about data security.

Currently distributed by iSelect in Australia’s it’s not known at this stage whether any changes will be made locally.

Google management believe that the move will aid its efforts to build hardware and software to “create a more thoughtful home”.

Nest has been run as a standalone unit since its US $3.2bn takeover in 2014.

Its smart home products benefit from gathering data about its users.

In the past, Nest had pledged the data gleaned from their devices, would be kept separate from Google’s other operations. Privacy campaigners have now raised concerns at the reorganisation claiming that what Google want to do is push more advertising into the face of Nest owners.

But Google has said it will be “transparent” about any changes that might be made.

Nest’s latest products include an alarm system that registers when users leave and return to their home.

In July 2015, Tony Fadell – the co-founder and former chief of Nest – told the BBC in the UK that consumers could be reassured that efforts had been made to ringfence this data and prevent it being mixed with all the other information Google gathered about the public.

“When you work with Nest and use Nest products, that data does not go into the greater Google or any of [its] other business units,” he explained.

It now appears that Google is back peddling on this claim.

“We have a certain set of terms and policies and things that are governed.

“So, just when you say we may be owned by Google, it doesn’t mean that the data is open to everyone inside the company or even any other business group – and vice versa.

“We have to be very clear on that.”

When Google was asked if that promise would be respected in the future it provided the following statement:

“Nest users’ data will continue to be used for the limited purposes described in our privacy statement like providing, developing, and improving Nest services and products,” it said.

“As we develop future plans and future product integrations, we will be transparent with users about the benefits of those integrations, any changes to the handling of data, and the choices available to consumers in connection with those changes.”

The firm also provided a link to its current privacy statement, which states that it will provide notice of any changes on its website or by contacting customers’ directly.

The Big Brother Watch campaign group said it was concerned by the development.

“Google already harvests an incredible amount of detailed information about millions of internet users around the globe,” said director Silkie Carlo.

“Now, Google is becoming embedded in the home, through ‘smart’ soft surveillance products.

“Adding data from Nest’s home sensors and security cameras will significantly expand Google’s monopoly on personal data. Many customers will be justifiably anxious about Google’s growing, centralised trove, especially given that its business model relies on data exploitation.”

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