Big Tech’s bid to gain access into people’s homes through smart tech like speakers and surveillance cams naturally spooks some people. To help you overcome those doubts, Google revealed a list of precautions back in 2019 when it rebranded its Home products as Nest. Several of the privacy commitments revolved around on-device data storage and the disabling of camera and recording features. Today, Google is updating those pledges with specific references to multi-device setups, account security, vulnerability research and future software releases. It’s also making them easier to find by bundling them together in Nest’s new Safety Center.
As part of the updates, Google says that all Nest devices released since 2019 are validated using third-party, industry-recognized security standards, including those developed by the Internet of Secure Things Alliance. It’s also added a bit about its Nest bug bounty program that compensates security researchers who unearth vulnerabilities in its tech.
In addition, the revised precautions now mention how it keeps your Google Account secure with tools like two-step verification. While it promises future safeguards through a pledge to provide at least five years of security updates for Nest devices after launch. Plus, there are explicit references to its verified boot feature that checks a device is running the right software each time it restarts. Finally, Google also directs you to the device activity page that shows all the gadgets your Google Account is signed into.
Back when Google first made the commitments, it seemed as though the privacy hoopla over smart home tech was at a fever pitch. A damaging Bloomberg report had just detailed how Amazon hired contractors to transcribe Alexa recordings. Facebook — which was still reeling from the Cambridge Analytica scandal — had launched its latest Portal display to mixed reviews, including valid questions over its place in the home. While Google had faced its own backlash for putting a mic in its Nest security hub and not telling anyone about it.
More recently, Amazon’s internet-sharing Sidewalk feature for Echo and Ring devices have kept data-sharing concerns in the spotlight. Therefore, you can’t blame Google for promoting its privacy commitments in this sensitive environment. Especially, If it makes the difference between people choosing to buy its products over its rivals.
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