Last week, Tech giant Google came under heavy criticism following a revelation about its Nest Secure hub, a web-connected home security system which had a secret microphone that was never disclosed in its product specs.
After the revelations, Google quickly responded by apologizing for Non-disclosure of Nest secret microphone. Google added that the omission was never intentional and that it was out of an “error”
In a statement the giant search engine explained that the Nest secret microphone had not been used to record anything and that it could only be turned on if the user specifically enables it from their end.
“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,”
However Googles apology wasn’t welcomed by US Senate Commerce Committee. The committee through a letter dated 25th February addressed to google CEO Sundar Pichai demanded answers in regards raised Nest privacy concerns.
“In recent years, consumers have become increasingly concerned about the ability of large technology companies to collect and use personal data about them without their consent,” reads part of the letter. “Therefore, it is critically important that companies like Google be completely transparent with consumers, and provide full disclosure of all technical specifications of their products at the point of sale.”
The letter added that Google’s failure to disclose a microphone within its Nest Secure product raised serious questions about its commitment to consumer transparency and disclosure.
The committee noted that the undisclosed microphone left users vulnerable to hackers.
“Even if Google was not using the Nest Secure microphone to record any information or it was turned off by default, there is still risk that hackers or other outside entities could have activated the microphone to illicitly record information,”
Google has until March 12 to provide written responses and have until March 29 for its CEO to appear before the congress in person for further briefing.
The committee wants Google CEO Pichai to specifically provide more information on six key questions.
- Has a microphone always been a component of the Nest Secure home security and alarm system device?
- When and how did Google become aware that a microphone was not listed on the Nest Secure’s technical specifications available to consumers?
- What steps has Google taken to inform purchasers of Nest Secure devices that the device contains a previously undisclosed microphone?
- Please describe Google’s process for developing technical specifications for its products. At what stage of this process did the error take place that resulted in the omission of the microphone’s presence in the Nest Secure device? Has Google taken steps to prevent such an error from reocurring in the technical specifications for other Google products?
- Is Google aware or has Google ever been aware of any third party using the Nest Secure microphone for any unauthorized purpose?
- Is Google aware of similar omissions in the technical specifications for any other Google products?
Google is yet to respond to the enquiry by the US Senate Commerce Committee