Earlier this month, Google pushed an update for Nest Secure that enabled it to function as a Google Assistant smart speaker. The announcement surprised users not just because of the new feature, but because the news came with the revelation that a microphone has existed on the hardware all along.
Until then, Nest Secure never had a feature that allowed voice commands, so users who placed the security system in their home had no cause to think a microphone was on the hardware. Moreover, the microphone is not listed in any of the product descriptions or instructions. But this month users learned that their Nest Guard device — the keypad component of the Nest Secure system — has a microphone that this newest update would enable.
In a climate of rampant information collection, a secret microphone naturally makes a person suspicious. A representative for Google comments, “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 company claims the microphone had been installed for future features, such as this.
Avast expert Luis Corrons believes that Nest Secure owners may be able to rest easy. “It is important to note,” he says, “that the microphone is disabled by default in all Nest devices. To enable it, the users have to do it themselves via the Nest app. This means that at no moment was it possible for the device to be listening.”
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