Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Cory Rios

Undesirable Bug On Google Home Mini Turned It Into A Surveillance Device

Undesirable Bug On Google Home Mini Turned It Into A Surveillance Device

Google's online account security and privacy tools include an activity timeline that can be filtered to specific products and services, and Android Police confirmed that the Home Mini was indeed uploading thousands of audio snippets to Google's servers as if they were user commands.

With the Google Home Mini, the search giant was hoping to get its smart speaker into more homes than ever before.

On paper, the donut-sized Google Home Mini and premium Apple HomePod-rivaling Google Home Max look pretty sweet, with early reviews consolidating at least the former's position as a very strong Echo Dot contender.

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.

In a statement, Google said: "We learned of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Mini devices that could cause the touch mechanism to behave incorrectly". We are rolling out a software update today that should address the issue. But this appears not to be the case with the Home Mini, meaning its accidental data harvesting was rather large breach of privacy. He noticed that his Google Home Mini was active and recording sound throughout the day, not only when he uttered the "OK, Google" keyword.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the software issue, saying it stems from the touchpad's activation button.

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One of those reviewers is reporting that the Home Mini he was writing about was nearly constantly recording sounds in his home.

On Friday afternoon, he went on to contact Google about the matter, and much to his surprise, not only did Google answer the email, but they also sent a team over to pick up the device and examine it.

Google's temporary fix is simple - deactivating the touch feature.

Google's response time for the issue was quite fast, working over a weekend to resolve the issue, so hopefully this will be the end of this.

The issue prevailed over the few initial units of Google Home Mini, including the ones that were distributed as review units. Russakovskii's pre-release unit, which he picked up from Google's October 4 event for the tech press, has apparently recorded "thousands of times a day" and attempted to respond to random noises.

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