It’s no secret that Google knows a lot more about you than your closest friend, family member or even wife think they do. In past, Google has been caught multiple times for peeping illegitimately into your personal or professional life via browser, email or even search you use in your daily life. With the launch of Google Home Mini, Google may apparently be having an access to all private and very personal voice conversations you have with your family members. And, the interesting part is, you don’t even realise that you have got a company which has ears open all the time.
No, we are not trying to scare you with some fictional story; a recent incident has forced us to think how vulnerable we are in the era of internet and gadgets we are surrounded with. Last week Google launched Pixel phones along with few other gadgets. Among all those two products there were two gadgets that excited the people most – Pixel Phone and Google Home Mini.
Google Home Mini is an answer to the widely popular Amazon Eco Dot, which is a standalone voice-based personal assistant at your home or office. It helps you to perform many tasks, such as setting an alarm, reminders, reading emails, play music, getting weather information, order things online and much more by a voice command. A user can activate the device by saying “Hey Google“.
Till date, people believed that Google Home Mini or Google Home, the extended version of Mini, start listening only after a user activate it. Otherwise, it is no better than a piece of other gadgets lying in your home. After the incidents, however, people have started realizing how wrong they were about the capabilities of Google Home Mini.
Google Home Mini: Listening to You All The Time
If you have seen the documentary “Terms & Conditions may Apply“, you can easily relate to the horrific consequences of being tracked all the time. For the years Facebook, Google, Apple and many others have changed the way we approach privacy. After watching the documentary you would agree that there is nothing called Privacy in the world of internet.
Artem Russakovskii, an author at Android Police, received a Google Home Mini at Pixel launch event held last week. After using the device for a couple of days he started noticing extremely serious issues with the device.
“It was waking up thousands of times a day, recording, then sending those recordings to Google,” he said. “All of this was done quietly, with only the four lights on the unit I wasn’t looking at flashing on and then off.”
Google was quick to respond after learning cranky behaviours of Google Home Mini. The company personally sent an executive to collect the device from Russakovskii.
Google tried to play down the issue by stating that the company was well aware of the issue which has affected a very small number of Google Home Mini. The company also said that a software update was rolled out on October 7 to fix the malfunctioning of the touchpad which is a prime culprit behind the issue.
Google has assured users about the privacy though, the incident has once again triggered a debate on users’ privacy keeping Google at the centre of it.
We have Killed Our Privacy
Google has got a long history of monitoring internet users. In 2013, Google was accused of snooping emails to boost advertising revenue. The tech giant Microsoft blamed Google of invading into users’ privacy by reading every email for profit.
The issue with Google Home Mini provides a sense of interference these tech companies can create in our life, directly or indirectly. One must see Hollywood flick “The Enemy of the State” to understand the adverse effects such snooping activities.
Industry experts debate that if Google could remotely ‘kill’ the issue of constant recording of conversations without a user’s permission, the company is very much capable reactivating the same feature without users’ consent. Even for a second if believe that Google will never indulge in such illegitimate act, there is every possibility that Google Home Mini – which is required to stay connected to the Internet all the time to function – could be hacked. All your personal conversations which were supposed to disappear in air may be heard by some hacker only to cough up a handsome amount of money. Ransomware is a classic example of this.
Considering Google’s long history of involvement with snooping, there is every possibility that through Google Home Mini Google could be collecting a much more data of your personal life than you may be aware of. No, we are not saying that Google will do that, but by placing Google Home Mini in your bedroom you make Google capable of doing so without any restriction any day any time.