Google rolling out “Orwellian nightmare” tech that uses spy cameras to watch you in your own home
09/25/2019 // Tracey Watson // Views

Like all the other tech giants, Google has been dogged by issues surrounding the way in which it protects the privacy of its users and what it does with their personal information.

The company has had to deal with allegations that it allowed contractors to listen to audio snippets recorded by users, supposedly to improve service offerings. Experts have also voiced serious concerns about Google Chrome, which is now the world’s most popular desktop browser. This is worrying because a huge number of sensitive transactions are now taking place via Chrome, and there are real concerns that personal information may not be protected on the browser.

Does this sound like a company that should now have not only audio but also video access to everything that happens in our homes? Google’s new Nest Hub Max is a smart display unit that comes equipped with a 6.5-megapixel facial recognition camera that identifies you and monitors all your actions and is not equipped with a physical shutter to forcibly prevent it monitoring the happenings in your home.

Does that sound like a good idea to anyone out there? (Related: STUNNED Android users discover that Google allows mobile phone apps to read all your Gmail.)

What is the Google Nest Hub Max?

The Daily Dot provides more information about the functions offered by the Nest Hub Max:

It’s the first smart home product from Google to include a camera so you can make video calls. It looks like a tablet propped up on its side, and it works similarly to smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo. …


The Nest Hub Max is essentially a smart speaker that lets you control connected smart home devices, and comes with a display and camera.

It’s not too dissimilar from the Google Home Hub, which Google just rebranded as Nest Hub. The new device has a 10-inch HD screen. It looks like a tablet in landscape orientation that’s propped up on a base. The base contains a speaker. At the top of the device are a camera and microphones.

The device allows you to check in on what’s happening in your home when you’re out, and because of its facial recognition capabilities, will detect when you enter the room and provide personalized information to you, such as your day’s appointments, the weather forecast, and so on.

The camera also enables two-way video calls over Google Duo, and comes loaded with the Google Assistant (which has been the focus of a huge number of privacy issues).

While all these functions might sound super convenient and fun, the privacy issues raised by the camera and audio functionality cannot be overlooked.

As noted by Brad Stone of Bloomberg Technology, commenting on some of the company’s other privacy issues, “Google is acting without a lot of transparency, without a lot of context for all the privacy questions this company has been facing.” (Related: Former Google engineers warn the EVIL corporation must be stopped.)

An Orwellian nightmare waiting to happen?

As reported by Gulf News, Google has been quick to stress that it has put several measures in place to protect the privacy and security of Nest Hub Max users. Nonetheless, serious questions remain:

[W]ith Google, it's always important to ask what the company is getting out of the deal. Your face matches may stay on the Hub Max, but any interaction with the Assistant (like tapping on the screen or issuing a voice command) gets added to your Google profile which can, by default, be used to target you with ads. …

The concerns only multiply from here. Today the face features are only accessible by Google, but what happens when it begins letting other apps and services access your face? Or when the tech also detects emotion in a face?

Clearly, there are real reasons to be concerned about Google’s latest tech offering, and those who wish to protect their online privacy might do better to steer well clear of it.

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