Google admitted that it didn’t tell users about a built-in microphone in its Nest Secure home security system, according to a report from Reuters.
On Wednesday (Feb. 20), the company said it made an error, but that it wasn’t keeping the microphone a secret.
“The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret, and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part. The microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option,” Google said.
Google also said the microphone was going to play a part in future features, like detecting the sound of glass breaking, according to CNET.
Nest Secure, a user-friendly home security system, costs around $400.
Earlier this month, Google said that Nest Secure would be updated and that users could now use Google Assistant on Nest Guard.
“The Google Assistant on Nest Guard is an opt-in feature, and as the feature becomes available to our users, they’ll receive an email with instructions on how to enable the feature and turn on the microphone in the Nest app. Nest Guard does have one on-device microphone that is not enabled by default,” the company said at the time.
The fact that users weren’t previously aware of the microphone raised privacy concerns, especially since the product has been available since 2017. Google is no stranger to privacy issues, and faces a $57 million fine in Europe for violating the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.
Nest has had its own privacy issues recently. In January, a hacker compromised a Nest security cam using passwords found from a third-party breach. The hacker then convinced the family that the country was being attacked with nuclear weapons by North Korea.
Google acquired Nest in 2014 for $3.2 billion. The company sells smart thermostats that automatically adjust settings based on preferences, video doorbells and security cameras.