In early February, Google announced that its security system and alarm system Nest Secure would get an update – users could now activate its virtual assistant technology, Google Assistant.
Problem: Nest users did not know that a microphone even existed on their security device at first.
The existence of a microphone on the Nest Guard (which is the alarm, keyboard and motion sensor component of the Nest Secure offer) was never described in any of the product material of the device.
On Tuesday, a Google spokesman Business Insider said the company had made a "mistake".
"The microphone on the device was never meant to be a secret and should have been listed in technical specifications. It was a mistake on our part," said the spokesman.
Google says "the microphone has never been turned on and activated only when users specifically activate the setting."
Read more: Google reabsorbs Nest, the smart home agency that bought for 3.2 billion. Dollars in 2014
It is also said that the microphone was originally included in Nest Guard for the ability to add new security features down the line, such as the ability to detect broken glass.
Although Google included the microphone in its Nest Guard device for future updates – like its Assistant integration – the news comes as consumers have become increasingly cautious about large technology companies and their commitment to consumer privacy.
For Google, the revelation is particularly problematic and takes into account previous privacy crimes, such as the event in 2010 when the company admitted that its fleet of Street View cars "accidentally" collected personal data transmitted over consumer unsecured WiFi networks, including emails.
Google bought Nest – originally known for its smart thermostat unit – back in 2014 for $ 3.2 billion. It became an independent company in 2015 when Google was reorganized as the alphabet, but in February 2018 it was brought back to Google under the leadership of main hardware exec Rick Osterloh.
Today, Nest offers a number of IoT products, including smoke detectors, video door bells and security cameras.