Some Google Home Minis Were Recording Unsuspecting Users

Posted October 12, 2017

After using the gadget, he went to his Google activity account page and noticed it was populated with audio clips recorded in his home.

He came to this conclusion after experiencing certain mishaps with the Google Home Mini, in which the smart speaker would fail to pick up on commands. According to Artem Russakovskii at Android Police, the Google Home Mini he was reviewing was randomly and near-constantly recording sounds in his home and transmitting them to Google.

He found that, due to what Google has called "phantom touches", the Home Mini was in a constant state of anticipation, listening for and awaiting verbal instructions.

The Google Home Mini is one of the more exciting, and better priced, hardware announcements from last weeks Made by Google 2017 event, but a bug with pre-prod units had them listening to everything you had to say, at least until Google fixed the issue. It issued a software patch to fix the behavior, issuing this response: "We have learned of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Minis that could cause the touch mechanism to behave incorrectly". A bug has been found in the calibration of the touch sensors on top of the device, causing it to begin recording without prompt. The company also says it "removed any activity/queries that were created by long-pressing the top of a Google Home Mini between October 4 and October 7, when the software update was rolled out". For example, in the United States, Google Home Mini costs $49 and ships by October 18. Then, like a twist in an episode of Black Mirror, Russakovskii discovered on his Google activity history that the Mini had been recording thousands of times per day without any direction or audible announcement.

'It was waking up, recording, then sending those recordings to Google.

EPIC has pending complaints with the FTC and DOJ alleging that always-on devices like Google Home, Echo and Siri violate consumer protection law and federal wiretap law.

A flaw in Google's miniature voice-activated speaker meant some of the devices constantly recorded owners without them knowing.

It's not clear yet what Google's permanent fix for the long press bug will be. And we all remember how much Google insisted on the quality of the Home Mini's design and materials.