Is Your Google Home Mini Spying On You?
In 2017, privacy is a myth. While we believe that we are secure behind the walls of VPNs or other similar security arrangement, in the end there is always some data that is seeping through. The latest name to cause panic over virtual surveillance has become that of the Google Home Mini – which is reportedly “spying” on its users thanks to a software bug.
Users reported that their Google Home Mini device turns on and off automatically thousands of time every day, sending in the logs of what they hear around them to Google.
Reportedly, the Google Home Mini is sending data to “com.google.android.apps.chirp/mushroom/prod” and Assistant. What is interesting here is ‘chirp’ is the code-name given to the Google Home ecosystem, and ‘mushroom’ is the code-name for the mini. All the conversations sent by Google Home Mini to Google were available on My Activity log with a play button available.
This is scary, if you think of it. A machine in your room that listens to everything that you speak and sends it across to an organization. However, when the issue was reported, Google was quick to respond. This issue was reported by Android Police’s Artem.
Google sent over a PR Team to Artem’s home to collect his Google Home Mini and examine it. An engineer drove up to Oakland the same night to look at it – Google was serious at fixing this major privacy violation.
Google found out that this was happening because of the Google Home Mini registering a phantom touch on its top. When you touch the device for a couple of seconds, it automatically triggers the assistant. Some devices were automatically being triggered without the touch. This was causing it to ‘spy’ on users and was totally unintentional.
Google released a software update which bumps the firmware version of the Google Home Mini from version 1.28.99351 to version 1.28.100122. This issue, while it seems really serious, isn’t intentional. Google came clear when they said that this problem exists on only about 4000 devices – the ones which were given out during the Made By Google event or the ones as well as the ones given on donut pop-up events.
Moreover, Google has also removed all activity recorded by long-pressing the Google Home Mini from their servers for all users!
Source: Android Police