Google admits its new smart speaker was eavesdropping on users

Google admits its new smart speaker was eavesdropping on users

Google admits its new smart speaker was eavesdropping on users

Apparently, the review unit handed over to Russakovskii was malfunctioning on the touch sensor level. The Home Mini units gave no indication they were recording beyond silently flashing their four display lights - a notification that you'd only notice if you were looking directly at the device. "If you're still having issues, please feel free to contact Google Support at 1-855-971-9121 to get a replacement Google Home Mini".

Google's new $50 Home Mini has been well received by reviewers, but one of those early reviewers, Android Police founder Artem Russakovskii, discovered a bug that effectively turned the Home Mini it into a spying device.

It would appear that a bug on the Google Home Mini managed to record all audio and then upload it to Google's servers.

Normally, the Google Home Mini would sit nonchalantly wherever you place it and ignore you until it hears it's wakeup command that means a request is coming. In Google Home Mini's case, users can hold their finger down at the top to access Google Assistant. Google said Tuesday it issued a software update on Saturday to address the issue. "We immediately rolled out a software update on October 7 to mitigate the issue".

Normally the Home Mini and devices like it only wake up the assistant once "OK Google" is detected.

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One of those reviewers is reporting that the Home Mini he was writing about was nearly constantly recording sounds in his home. The problem, as Russakovskii writes, was that the Google Home Mini thought someone was holding their finger down on the top of the touch panel of the device, the only other way to have the Google's smart mini speaker start listening to commands.

Russakovskii swapped the device with Google, whose engineers determined that the device was registering "phantom" touches.

Google released a dedicated support page on the issue with additional details.

With security and privacy at the forefront of everyone's minds these days, especially with products that are capable of recording your conversation, this is obviously not the type of bug that Google wants right before a product launch.

While we may share a lot of our data with Google already, we do so with the knowledge that we've agreed to let the search giant hoover up information on our web searches.

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