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

Vjeran Pavic  The Verge

Vjeran Pavic The Verge

Mr Russakovskii wrote for the Android Police website of his discovery of the issue, and of how Google PR went to his house to retrieve the faulty unit. While Google distributed up to 4,000 Home Minis at the pre-release events, it's not clear whether all of them are impacted, and it told Russakovskii other pre-order units for the general retail market were not affected by the bug.

"We take user privacy very seriously", it added.

That's a big problem, since smart speakers should never record audio without a specific prompt from the user ("OK Google", "Alexa", etc.). According to the emails received by Artem, Google stated that this appeared to be a hardware bug in some of the Google Home Minis. So, Russakovskii visited Google's My Activity portal on the web and made a startling discovery. I saw thousands of items, each with a Play button and a timestamp, all attributed to the cryptically named com.google.android.apps.chirp/mushroom/prod and Assistant. It can be disabled, but Russakovskii's wasn't.

It's not #Hard To Imagine the many ways devices like Google Home Mini could go wrong.

AndroidPolice said that they noticed that, at one point, the Google Home Mini started picking up a Spotify stream.

Unfortunately, a major and deeply unsettling issue impacted a "small number of Google Home Mini devices" given away at last week's Made by Google event, organized in honor of the company's two new smart home products, as well as the Pixel 2 and 2 XL phones, and the Pixelbook. "We immediately rolled out a software update on October 7 to mitigate the issue". If you're having any additional issues, please feel free to contact Google Support at 1-855-971-9121.

Google identified the problem and revealed that there was a problem with the touch panel at the top which can be used to activate the Assistant by long-pressing it. Anyway, Google updated all Home Mini units to disable the touchpad on top of the unit to prevent the assistant from accidentally waking up and recording everything.

After timidly challenging Amazon's constantly growing Alexa-powered Echo family with a single Google Home model a year ago, Big G just expanded its Google Assistant-controlled smart speaker line to a full-on armada.

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