Google Home Mini Caught Spying

The Target team up comes just after a similar partnership with Walmart and Google.                  Chris Monroe  CNET

The Target team up comes just after a similar partnership with Walmart and Google. Chris Monroe CNET

Apparently, the review unit handed over to Russakovskii was malfunctioning on the touch sensor level.

Google's launch event last week created quite the buzz and one of the new products that people are excited to try include the Google Home Mini.

Google immediately responded, taking away his Home Mini and giving him 2 in exchange.

To Google's credit it has scrambled the engineering jets to detect the issue and find a solution. According to Artem Russakovskii at Android Police, the Google Home Mini he was considering was unmethodically and near continually recording sounds in his home and transferring them to Google.

Normally, the Google Home Mini would sit nonchalantly wherever you place it and ignore you until it hears it's wakeup command that means a request is coming.

While this in itself is a fairly minor inconvenience, it has major implications for the privacy of users and could, in theory, let Google monitor everything that is said in your home.

The Google Home Mini fits most of the features of the tech giant's popular Home smart speakers into a $50, four-inch-wide package, except for the larger, $130 version's better acoustics. We are rolling out a software update today that should address the issue. "We rolled out an update on October 7 to mitigate the issue".

It looks like the problem has something to do with the touch panel on the device.

Russakovskii has posted a video on YouTube showing the Home Mini activating and recording when it detects nearly any sound.

Google acknowledged the issue on a support page, saying, "The Google Home team is aware of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Mini devices that could cause the touch-control mechanism to behave incorrectly".

The seriousness with which Google handled the Home Mini incident (they sent someone to physically pick it up from the guy's house!) shows that it was definitely a case of a device gone rogue and not something more nefarious, but it's still a good privacy reminder.

As explained by Google, the issue affected devices that were given out at the U.S. Made by Google launch event. And we all remember how much Google insisted on the quality of the Home Mini's design and materials. And it appears that the problem is a glitch that causes affected units to think that they should be recording when they should not.

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