The Nest Secure has a hidden microphone, and Google didn't tell owners for 18 months



  • Reply 61 of 62
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,096member
    jungmark said:
    lkrupp said:
    jungmark said:
    “Do no evil.” Right, more like “don’t get caught”. 

    A bug can be a mistake. Bugs happen. Not telling users there’s a mic in a product is a blatant lie. 
    Like not telling you your iPhone is being throttled to maintain battery performance? Just saying.
    And Apple was skewered for it but Apple did mention it was trying to improve the shut down issues. It just failed to detail how they were doing it. 

    Having a mic where you dont expect one is more troubling. 
    I don't know that very many people would have expected there would NOT be one. Seems like a good selling point but since it was not active and might never be I can see why it wouldn't be listed as a feature of the device.  Now with it as an option it's up to you the owner whether to activate it, not Google. 

    Now as for mics where you might not think to expect them look no further than your local downtown sidewalks, workplace, restaurant, grocery store, city streetlights... 
  • Reply 62 of 62
    Soli said:
    Soli said:
    avon b7 said:
    Soli said:
    avon b7 said:
    Soli said:
    There's absolutely no evidence that this was a working microphone that was eavesdropping on anyone and let's be clear that Alphabet is the one that announced the update that enabled the microphone, not a blogger that discovered nefarious activity. For those looking for a conspiracy you'll have to look harder. This is no different from countless other tech companies that don't disclose inactive HW for a variety of reasons.
    I think in this particular case more could have been done to correct the error beforehand.

    A team of people were involved in designing, testing and producing the hardware. It is reasonable to think that some of these people would have used the finished product or given it to friends and family. It is unreasonable to assume that none of these people saw that a key (and consumer facing element - even if inactive) got missed on the spec list or in the product documentation.

    Also, this feature will have been in internal testing for a while before getting the go ahead to go live which would have provided more opportunities to catch the slip up.

    I'm with you that I don't see anything nefarious but it should have got caught and clarified earlier IMO.
    Apple Infamously released a Mac with hidden 802.11n WiFi and then only announced it after the driver was ready for a launch…and then charged you a fee for it which pissed people off even though they had purchased the machine despite nary a mention of that being a promised feature.

    As I stated, this isn't uncommon and if you don't trust Google then Nest Secure was never an option for you anyway.

    How many products do we have on our person and in our homes with microphones? From security cameras to personal digital assistants to PCs to phones to my Apple Watch I can think of at least 8 off the top of my head. And while I trust Apple to not spy on me the bigger risk will always be exploiting a bug as we recently saw with FaceTime Group Chat.

    If I was running a company as valuable as Alphabet and I wanted to spy on people I wouldn't do it with an undisclosed, active microphone that could be found, I'd blatantly disclose the microphone (as all our CE already have) and then I'd have backdoor "bugs" built-in that people in-the-know could exploit so there's a level of deniability by the company. We accept bugs in SW and we accept that companies say "oopsie"and then close these holes once discovered.
    Wi-fi isn't comparable to this. Those machines already had Wi-Fi on them. All the update did was unlock support for 802.11n.
    You’re now claiming that 802.11n over 802.11g is just better code? Is this so you can later claim that Apple was being petty for a mere “software update”? ߤ榺wj;♂️
    802.11n wasn’t a ratified standard at the time and the hardware was developed using a proposed feature set.
    Being a draft or accounting rules have nothing to do with whether it's common for vendors to include deactivated HW in products. And the argument that the 802.11n HW is the same 802.11g but with different SW is just asinine.

    You can feel differently about different types of HW or different companies disclosing HW but it will to change the fact that it's common to have to HW that isn't enabled and therefore not labeled as being part of the HW, as we've seen with FM radios in the iPhone for years. So why don't you all save your outrage for when there's some actual skullduggery and privacy that they've been caught violating.
    "And the argument that the 802.11n HW is the same 802.11g but with different SW is just asinine."

    Why? As far as I know, every 802.11n WiFi receiver card is backward compatible with 802.11g and 802.11b.  Every one of them. So why can't the 802.11n card in the Macs have the "n" standard disabled by not having the "n" SW and can only decode 802.11g or 802.11b, until the "n" standard is ratified?  Or do you actually think that computers that can connect to both WiFi 802.11n and 802.11g, have two sets of HW in them. One for each WiFi standards. Now that would be asinine.

    Now the router broadcasting the WiFi standards might need two sets of HW. A set for each standard. Most can only broadcast in "g" or "n" or automatically switch between the two, but not both at the same time. An "n" card will decode the "n", "g" or "b" signal. But a "g" card will only decode a "g" or "b" signal. The backward compatibility of the "n" standard, is only on the receiving end, not the broadcasting end. Thus if there's a "g" only card in the system, the router will only broadcast in "g". Which isn't a problem for devices with the "n" HW, as the "n" standard can decode the "g" signal, without ant additional HW. Though one will lose the speed of an "n" broadcast.

    This from 2006, before the "n" standard was ratified and they were already selling computers with "n draft" WiFi cards.

    "In the wake of 802.11n being approved as an IEEE draft specification last month, both Atheros and competing chipmaker Broadcom have announced the availability of 802.11n chips that will be software-upgradeable to comply with the final specification."

    And it's not deactivated HW that vendors might include in their product for future use, that is the problem. The problem is not disclosing to consumers that there is deactivated HW installed, that can be activated and made functional, at any time. 

    edited February 22 avon b7
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