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12 October 2017, 12:59 | Patty Hardy
Google updates Home Mini to address major privacy bug
After timidly challenging Amazon's constantly growing Alexa-powered Echo family with a single Google Home model past year, Big G just expanded its Google Assistant-controlled smart speaker line to a full-on armada. Eventually, Google sent an engineer, in person, to his house to swap out his Home Mini so they could test it. For example, Android Police founder Artem Russakovskii discovered a hardware defect in the upcoming Google Home Mini that caused the device to record nearly all nearby audio and upload it directly to Google. When the user checked the Assistant's data log page, he found that the speaker was recording audio clips most of the time and sending it to Google's servers. It would even become alert when the TV was switched on, trying to respond to what was being said. A check of his Google My Activity portal showed many requests across days since he activated the review unit. It was here that he noticed the thousands of recordings with timestamps to go along with them. "If you're still having issues, please feel free to contact Google Support at 1-855-971-9121 to get a replacement Google Home Mini". The organization confessed the problem and is furnishing a software update to rectify the issue which surfaces towards the disaster of a touch sensor on top. To interact with the Home Mini, you can either say "OK Google" or tap the top of its touch-sensitive surface.
Still, it would be best to be cautious and make sure your Home Mini isn't keeping track of everything you say 24/7.
Besides the hotword, home assistant devices have a button that you can touch to trigger the assistant.
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Home assistants that connect to the internet to answer inquiries and parse voice commands are at risk, just like anything else online, of being compromised or being misused by their creators.
As well as documenting his finding, Russakovskii reported the issue to Google - and the company was quick to respond and investigate. Russakovskii's Home Mini review unit was recording everything, and it all happened without his knowledge. Google will appparently release another software update to fix the issue completely.
However, Russakovskii's and other devices "thought" the touch panel was always on, as if someone was constantly pressing it.
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