Google announced this week that your Nest Security system can now be used with its Google Assistant—which is great news. You can just ask Google all sorts of questions, and there’s no need to buy and install a new device.
But wait a minute. How will your security system know what you’re saying? There definitely wasn’t a microphone listed on the original specifications when you bought the product, right?
Turns out the microphone was there the whole time—Google just “forgot” to mention it.
Now, we don’t have a problem with companies future-proofing their products. Just because the Nest Security system didn’t require a microphone at launch, didn’t mean it would never need one. And it’s a lot easier to enable a feature that already exists than having to create, and install, an entirely new device. In fact, that’s much better for customers, as they don’t need to buy anything new, just update what they’ve got and go. The problem is buyers weren’t told that the microphone was already there.
For many, this will seem like a violation of trust from Google. We purchase items from companies we trust, and we trust that they’re handling any data they collect responsibly. We don’t think that they are recording us with hidden microphones. This is especially prevalent as we’re entering a period where more and more people are introducing connected devices into their homes; as a result, our concerns about security and privacy are increasing. We’ve all seen the reports of Alexa accidentally sending voice recordings to other users, and the connected toys that are spying on our children. When it comes to getting your connected device into our homes, transparency and trust is everything.
It’s not so much that the microphone was there, it’s the fact we didn’t know about it. This lack of communication raises questions about what else companies may be neglecting to tell us. Now is the time companies need to be clear with us, to ensure our trust—and therefore our purchase of their connected products. Failure to uphold that trust could result in us seeking solutions elsewhere.
Posted by Katie on 21 February 2019