Nick Bastone, Business Insider:
In early February, Google announced that its home security and alarm system Nest Secure would be getting an update. Users, the company said, could now enable its virtual-assistant technology, Google Assistant.
The problem: Nest users didn’t know a microphone existed on their security device to begin with.
The existence of a microphone on the Nest Guard, which is the alarm, keypad, and motion-sensor component in the Nest Secure offering, was never disclosed in any of the product material for the device.
On Tuesday, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider the company had made an “error.”
“The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs,” the spokesperson said. “That was an error on our part.”
The US Senate Commerce Committee wants explanations from Google CEO Sundar Pichai about a recent controversy at Nest, the smart-home device company Google owns.
“Google’s failure to disclose a microphone within its Nest Secure product raises serious questions about its commitment to consumer transparency and disclosure,” the letter dated Feb. 25 says. “As consumer technology becomes ever more advanced, it is essential that consumers know the capabilities of the devices they are bringing into their homes so they can make informed choices.”