Your Google Home speaker may have been quietly recording sounds around your house without your permission or authorization, it was revealed this week.
The Chocolate Factory admitted it had accidentally turned on a feature that allowed its voice-controlled AI-based assistant to activate and snoop on its surroundings. Normally, the device only starts actively listening in and making a note of what it hears after it has heard wake words, such as “Ok, Google” or “Hey, Google,” for privacy reasons. Prior to waking, it’s constantly listening out for those words, but is not supposed to keep a record of what it hears.
Yet punters noticed their Google Homes had been recording random sounds, without any wake word uttered, when they started receiving notifications on their phone that showed the device had heard things like a smoke alarm beeping, or glass breaking in their homes – all without giving their approval.
Google said the feature had been accidentally turned on during a recent software update, and it has now been switched off, Protocol reported. It may be that this feature is or was intended to be used for home security at some point: imagine the assistant waking up whenever it hears a break in, for instance. Google just bought a $450m, or 6.6 per cent, stake in anti-burglary giant ADT.