The recent scandal affecting Google Home Minis is leaving customers concerned, after it’s been discovered that some of the devices are recording their owners 24/7. The devices are designed to only listen once they’ve been voice activated. For example if the owner says certain words like “Hi Google” or “Ok Google”.
When activated the device allows users to ask gadget to order food, call someone, check the weather and other functions. The device is then supposed to go back to sleep after it’s been used. The fact that the devices could potentially be recording at all times is very worrying. It means that they could be recording private conversations, which is a massive breach of privacy.
Google claims that the issue was completely accidental and it has now been successfully fixed. So how did this error occur in devices? It’s thought that there is a software problem in some devices which affects the touch option.
Google Home Mini’s can be activated by pressing the top of the unit, which is where the fault is believed to be. The device thinks that the button has been pressed when it hasn’t. Google is assuring its customers that only a small number of devices were affected and the problem has now been fixed.
This fault was discovered when an Android police reviewer reported gadget was listening to him at all times. He was concerned when he realized that the Google Home Mini was recording everything, and these recordings were being transmitted to Google.
He claims that: “Several days passed without me noticing anything wrong. In the meantime, as it turns out, the Mini was behaving very differently from all the other Homes and Echos in my home – it was waking up thousands of times a day, recording, then sending those recordings to Google. All of this was done quietly, with only the four lights on the unit I wasn’t looking at flashing on and then off”
Google has fully acknowledged this fault in its software, and say they are working hard on fixing it. The devices go on sale to the public on October 19th. Google also claim that any Google Minis which have been pre-ordered by customers will not be faults, and customers should not be concerned about their privacy while using them.
Any customers who’ve purchased the Google Mini Home can delete and re-download the software, ensuring that they disable the “Touch” option on their device. Any previous information that has been recorded can also be deleted in the “My Activity” option.
Although Google has been very honest about these issues, and ensures measures are in place to fix them, its customers still have the right to be concerned. The question is, should consumers choose the convenience of using a listening device over potential problems including breach of personal information, privacy and potentially their safety?