Pre-release Google Home Mini goes rogue, starts recording 24/7

Bill Rogers
October 12, 2017

The Home Mini is set to launch on October 19 and ahead of that official launch, as Google and other manufacturers normally do, the device was placed in the hands of reviewers around the globe. Google says that only Google Home Mini devices from recent Made by Google events were affected. For example, in the United States, Google Home Mini costs $49 and ships by October 18. That's a pretty severe privacy violation, but Google says it's pushing out an update to prevent it from happening again. Russakovskii's unit was apparently registering touches at random, so it would randomly start recording audio of his home and storing it on Google's servers. Google added a way to activate its new speaker using a touch panel so users don't always have to talk to their gadgets.

While this in itself is a fairly minor inconvenience, it has major implications for the privacy of users and could, in theory, let Google monitor everything that is said in your home. Google, on its part, acknowledged the bug responsively and issued a software update to address the issue. It concluded that there was an issue with the touch control mechanism, and very quickly issued a software update to fix the problem.

It's great to see Google hurry to fix the issue, but this is still a PR nightmare. He discovered that it was listening to everything and sending those recordings to Google's servers.

The issue prevailed over the few initial units of Google Home Mini, including the ones that were distributed as review units.

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Android Police's Artem Russakovskii noticed that his Google Home Mini was spying on him thousands of times per day, sending data back to Google in the process.

Potentially impacted users can find more information on this Google support page.

The Google Home Mini isn't out yet, but Google is already dealing with an issue related to it. If users don't want to bother with extending a greeting to a machine, they can also just press a button on top of the Mini and then voice the command or question.

Unfortunately, a major and deeply unsettling issue impacted a "small number of Google Home Mini devices" given away at last week's Made by Google event, organized in honor of the company's two new smart home products, as well as the Pixel 2 and 2 XL phones, and the Pixelbook.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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