Source: Nick Bastone
Google says “the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option.”
It also said the microphone was originally included in the Nest Guard for the possibility of adding new security features down the line, like the ability to detect broken glass.
Still, even if Google included the microphone in its Nest Guard device for future updates — like its Assistant integration — the news comes as consumers have grown increasingly wary of major tech companies and their commitment to consumer privacy.
For Google, the revelation is particularly problematic and brings to mind previous privacy controversies, such as the 2010 incident in which the company acknowledged that its fleet of Street View cars “accidentally” collected personal data transmitted over consumers’ unsecured WiFi networks, including emails.
Google bought Nest — which was initially known for its smart thermostat device — back in 2014 for $3.2 billion. It became a standalone company in 2015 when Google reorganized as Alphabet, but in February 2018 it was brought back into Google under the leadership of the head hardware exec Rick Osterloh.
Today, Nest offers a variety of Internet of Things products including smoke detectors, video doorbells, and security cameras.