Google Home Mini caught 'spying' on owner

By Ray Downs  |  Oct. 13, 2017 at 2:24 AM
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Oct. 13 (UPI) -- A flaw has been discovered in the new Google Home Mini that allows the device to secretly record without the user knowing and sending the information to Google.

The flaw was discovered last week by tech blogger Artem Russakovskii and written about on Android Police. Russakovskii, who was given a free sample device before the official launch later this month, first noticed the device continually turned on and off on its own. Later, when he checked the activity logs, he saw that the device was recording without being prompted.

"My Google Home Mini was inadvertently spying on me 24/7 due to a hardware flaw," Russakovskii wrote.

In a letter to Google, he added: "Needless to say, if a listening device records almost every minute of every day and stores it remotely, we're talking about a huge privacy violation." Google then sent out an engineer to pick up and examine the next day. They then said the problem stemmed from a a glitch on the device's touch pad.

"We have learned of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Minis that could cause the touch mechanism to behave incorrectly," the company told Russakovskii. "We are rolling out a software update today that should address the issue."

But the glitch has some privacy advocates worried that it could be a sign of a bigger problem.

"The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice should investigate this incident, as well as the general use of 'always-on' devices," Marc Rotenberg, the President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told CNN Tech.

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