Sunday, 22 October, 2017

Google Home Mini bug could make it record audio 24/7

Google's Home Mini needed a software patch to stop some of them from recording everything Google updates Home Mini to address major privacy bug
Lucas Bell | 12 October, 2017, 00:58

Luckily, Google Home Mini owners can check the activity of their speaker on Google's My Activity portal, which in this case revealed flawed unit sent thousands of items (each with a Play button and a timestamp) on the web.

Because the Google Home Mini ($49) doesn't officially launch until next week, no paying customers have been impacted. He says the company replied to his initial e-mail within 10 minutes and issued a band-aid patch the day after his report. 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. The idea is that you can say "OK Google" or "Hey Google" whenever you're near the device to begin issuing commands to smart home devices and asking questions.

After this, the idea of Google's AI going rogue starts taking concrete shape when it was known that Google got the unit collected from the user.

Google has acknowledged the issue and has issued a software update to fix the problem. 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".

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Russakovskii swapped the device with Google, whose engineers determined that the device was registering "phantom" touches.

In the meantime, Google allows users to deactivate any existing Google devices from saving audio recordings via its settings page. In the meantime, as it turns out, the Mini was behaving very differently from all the other Homes and Echos in my home - it was waking up thousands of times a day, recording, then sending those recordings to Google. Their Home Mini smart speaker is one such example of making AI available to the masses. Google may be able to bring this feature back in the future if it figures out how to identify defective units. The bug won't impact the Google Home Max, as it isn't launching until December.

After reporting the issue, it appears Google is right onto it, diagnosing a faulty touch panel on the device - the Google Home Mini can be activated by either touch or hot (Ok or Hey Google) words.

As a result, virtually everything happening near the Home Mini was recorded.

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