Don't Be Forgetful I'm sure that was the Google motto.
Google has apologised for not telling Nest smart home kit owners there was a microphone in their gear. The £99 Nest home alarm talks to Google's servers over the internet, offering home monitoring and alert functions. Here's a snapshot of the product page for the system, taken on 15 December: Google Nest specs And here's …
Um, I'm sure I only connect router/modem, computers, optional keyboard computers(tablets), book optimised computers (ereaders to lookup phrase in book, not to buy or sync), pocket computers (phones), game orientated computers (son's consoles). I don't connect the Bluray player or Smart TV to LAN or WiFi. I have computer things with HDMI, that I don't need to take apart.
Or just close the curtains (they absorb some if the sound waves, enough to make the ones that reach the glass and vibrate it to be effectively just white noise now).
Or put a speaker in front of the window pointing at it and play random sound (white noise, or your favourite music).
play random sound
So - Steve Hackett music then?
(For the avoidance of doubt - I really, really like Steve Hackett and his music. The above comes from a quote by my wife along the lines of "his music has too many notes and they are all in the wrong place". I did try to explain that that's the essence of proper Prog music but she's gone off the listen to the Wombles again..)
Having just returned from this year's Cruise To The Edge which prominently featured Hackett, I can definitely confirm this...
Now if you want BIZARRE random sound via "music" then I recommend Adrian Belew Power Trio. Good riffs/jam punctuated by some seriously odd tangents of noise.
The action of Google was blatant in reading the SSID and the data load for the packets. They also stored the packet data for later analysis.
Google then spent 6 years denying repeatedly that they did store the WIFI user data. The patent mentioned earlier and internal emails evidenced that the cars were deliberately set-up to store this data. Google was fined (tiny amount) and agreed to stop storing LAN data. To my knowledge this has never been verified via external audit..
>The action of Google was blatant in reading the SSID and the data load for the packets. They also stored the packet data for later analysis.
If you know how the protocol works this is entirely reasonable. Most people aren't aware of anything under the LLC layer, they think that wireless network traffic looks like Ethernet. It doesn't, its just presented like that at the driver interface to simplify interfacing it to the rest of the stack. There's a whole lot of information under that layer, information that's broadcast because -- believe it or not -- the protocol broadcasts traffic, it doesn't send it on some exclusive channel. Your network is identified by the BSSID, not the SSID -- that's the text broadcast by periodic beacon frames (if you've got them turned on), its how you get that list of every AP in the vicinity to choose from on your computer. The user data is normally encrypted these days so its not a whole lot of use.
I fear that between this little commotion and the current "They're spying on us" 5G scare story we may be approaching peak ignorance. I expect governments to have access to the best information possible when they make decisions but apparently our governments don't, they're vulnerable to any snake oil salesman with a glib line and a slick patter.
Don't be gullible should be your Moto. Almost all of this article is the usual clickbait shite that the same writer constantly posts.
Google never did drive by WiFi slurping your data, the collected WiFi SSID names and their location. Apple did EXACTLY the same thing, nobody blinked and eye...
To further explain this:
The WiFi SSID is data inside packets that are broadcast by the WiFi system. Therefore the act of reading the SSID requires reading the WiFi packets to then extract the SSID from them. You can't determine the SSID (without physical access and reading the SSID printed on the device label - assuming it hasn't been changed) without reading WiFi data.
But to try to be fair to Google, is there a fundamental difference between someone broadcasting an SSID from their home and having the name of the house on the gatepost? Both are saying 'This is who I am'. Would there be the same irritation about recording the address of a house with its grid ref?
You don't want your SSID seen, you don't broadcast it. (Yes, I know it can still be identified, but they have to deliberately ignore the 'no peeking' sign, which is what hiding the SSID means) When they THEN manage to snaffle it, it's a whole different thing! Similar to you locking the door and them picking the lock.
I made no comment on whether collecting the SSID and such was justifiable or not, only that it is collecting personal data.
That said, it's also true that Google collected a lot more than that -- they also collected all unsecured payload data, which included emails, etc.
That's not relevant to what I was mentioning, though. Google was wardriving, collecting all of the WiFi data that it could see. The emails and other personal information they collected was because people were using unsecured WiFi. In other words, Google collected data in transit, not data at rest.
Those people should not have been using unencrypted Wifi, of course -- in doing so, you're literally broadcasting all of your data over the radio where anybody can receive it in the clear without effort. At the same time, Google should not have been paying any attention to payload data if all they wanted was a map of SSIDs.
I recall a 2010 article detailing that slurping WIFI data was EXACTLY what Google did. They did not try to decrypt or crack the encryption on anything, but they did store anything that came over the air unencrypted while their cars drove by.
What apple did was actually worse. They not only did exactly the same as Google did with their cars, SSID mapping to location, they also had users iPhones doing the same grunt work without their consent (well technically it was hidden in the T&C that they could), it also explains the iPhone shit battery life..
Apple accidentally admitted this recently.
"It’s doing this by using first-party data gathered by iPhones with a privacy-first methodology and its own fleet of cars packed with sensors and cameras. "
As you seem to work for Google PR, don't you think it would have been a smart move to mention that when you implemented a mic?
Or would that have stopped the spread of the damn thing too soon?
You really need to stop this sort of stuff leaking, eventually you'll rouse the peasants.
So is it usually perfectly silent in your house?
Mine isn't, the dogs will bark when the post arrives, the cat will vomit on the rug (not on the tiles, or floorboards, but the rug), there will be a taxi honking to alert someone it's there to pick them up, the odd siren of an emergency vehicle.
So a home snoop would be nagging me about this stuff, when I really don't care.
Surely some “artificial intelligence” could easily distinguish between the sound of a cat vomitting on a rug and a burglar breaking a window?
Back in the early 90's or more likely late 80's there were "glass breakage detector" modules that could be fitted to shop alarm systems. Basically a microphone that was "tuned to the frequency of breaking glass" (although jingling a large and diverse enough bunch of keys could also trigger it). It would NOT detect people talking, or cars passing, or cats vomiting. It would detect the sound of broken glass. This would then trigger the alarm (a good way to drive away miscreants) and also alert you via the auto-dialer, if you had one.
As to the idea of a system picking up sound in the house - that would mean all of my perimeter detection had already failed. Once they're inside the house it's way too late to bother notifying you about them. We used to have a TV show here done by burglars in the (supposed) interest of showing people what they liked (eg high fences were a bonus as no one could see into the property), and one thing they showed was that the more intelligent ones work to a time of a few minutes only, so they very quickly turn over the place looking for cash or easily carried valuables.
So what if the alarm tells the house owner they're inside? And so what if the house is strewn with cameras instantly delivering everything to the eyes of every cop in the world - if they're covering their heads, out quickly, and scarper in different directions (removing their coverings as they go), they're fine. Assuming the cops can even bother to respond (they won't, they'll be pissed at you for complaining as you use up valuable doughnut eating/minority bashing/ticket issuing time) unless the perps are extremely unlucky the nearest free car will be more than 10 minutes away, and the nearest dog team more than half an hour away.
It is possible, but very unlikely.
In my opinion, they left the mic off the spec sheet because it was not activated and had no function, so any user buying the device would complain that whilst it may have a physical mic it had no functional mic.
This is not an accident, it is a deliberate omission, for a specific and rational reason.
Whilst that may be true, any manufacturer could deliberately sell devices with un-activated and un-publicised hardware at first, then activate it later without telling anyone. They could then claim it was a deliberate omission, but IMHO it's a sneaky way to behave (but to be expected).
the dogs will bark when the post arrives, the cat will vomit on the rug (not on the tiles, or floorboards, but the rug)
Of course the cats do - it's part of the unwritten contract. Just look at the (very, very, very) small print.
Even better, they make sure to vomit on the bit that *exactly* matches the colour of said vomit. At night.
So that when you are wandering around (having heard said vomiting and wanting to clear it up before the dog eats it or someone treads in it) you'll be guarenteed to tread in it.
Hmmm.. warm cat-sick.
 Or, more accurately, 'she'.. I'm quite happy for the dog to clean it up. They are all regularly wormed..
 It doesn't help that two of our cats have badly-compomised digestions (rescue cats, came to with very, very badly upset digestions) and are prone to vomit at the drop of a gnats fart. Even when fed on very expensive food meant for sensitive stomachs. It does reduce the vomiting but doesn't prevent it. None of the other cats are prone to random vomiting..
rush the cats more often, and serve smaller meals more often. It'll help.
Have to agree totally with this. Have seen rescue cats that were strays who had grown up trying to hurriedly eat as much as they could as quickly as they could before they were driven off by another animal.
When housed, they would continue this practice but of course they had more food available than they could fit in their stomach. This didn't stop them putting it away, but soon after they'd have to bring some back up.
By giving smaller meals, even hand-feeding them a few bites at a time, you could eliminate this problem.
That doesn't mean it will always work, sometimes there are issues with the digestion that aren't easily fixed, but I have found it helps out most of the time with rescues.
My burglar alarm literally has a function where it will activate and send the monitoring center an alert if it picks up a loud sound when the alarm is set. (And wake up the neighbors, too, if that happens at night, but never mind that.)
However, if I found out that the glass-break detector was monitoring my conversations, you can bet there would be a conversation with the alarm company.
It ought to come with free side cutters so you can remove it, or mount the mic on a socket so it can be pulled by people who don't trust you.
That said, those people probably would not have bought a Nest anyway after Google acquired it.
All buyers are eligible for a complimentary slap in the back of the head, for buying IOShiT crud.
I'm available to provide them myself. Don't worry about giving us the address, Nest will do that for you, and will let us know when you are home
I'm available to provide them myself. Don't worry about giving us the address, Nest will do that for you, and will let us know when you are home
Oh my, you are going to be very busy. How about emailing instructions for them to do it themselves... see icon for example.
"those people probably would not have bought a Nest anyway after Google acquired it."
I think there's a larger point here, though. That there was an undisclosed microphone in these devices reinforces the point that you can't trust Google, period, and therefore should not buy anything from them, whether internet connected or not.
To everyone using Android, Chrome Browser, Chrome OS, Google / Alphabet gadgets, Google / Alphabet: Analytics, apis, fonts, YouTube, Gmail etc.
Listening in a most general sense. Not always with a microphone.
I'm not sure what the answer is. I do know what the problem is.
I was already considering making a wearable IR LED array to disrupt all the cameraphones being constantly waved around in public - and uploading the captured images to Google, Facebook etc. without my consent and in most cases, knowledge. I think I need to expand the design brief to include something disruptive to microphones as well.... maybe something loud in the >18kHz range? sure, it'll annoy the yoof but my ears are past annoyance in that range!
I think I need to expand the design brief to include something disruptive to microphones as well.... maybe something loud in the >18kHz range? sure, it'll annoy the yoof but my ears are past annoyance in that range!
Go for it. Maybe some sort of a small, guided missile or something more powerful to destroy such devices. Knowing how things are though, there will be videos of incoming destruction taken by the targets.
Dreamt up by Daemons "working" in Marketing.
The Recycling Centre might be too good for them. See environmentally unfriendly icon.
A) No-one here was surprised
B) They forgot to tell anyone? Was that like the Street View WiFi Slurp, or Location Tracking off?
Also why does Google insist on Geolocating people using search even when you are not logged in and blocking analytics domains and cookies, wierd that they tell you they are doing it.
Oh, wait, they dropped that as a motto, and changed it to "Do the right thing". Right for whom? My guess is the shareholders ... So it's OK that they are evil now, as long as they are making a profit, right?
Some of us have been shunning google since the year dot ... not paranoid, pragmatic.
No, Don't be Evil still worked as a motto for them. They don't think they're evil. Evil people generally don't. Hitler didn't think he was evil. Neither did Stalin or Clinton. It doesn't change the fact that they are/were evil, they just didn't think they were.
What about the patent is inventive? Like.. it's a cuddly toy with a camera and microphone in it. If I want to make a cuddly toy that responded to what a kid was saying or doing, I'd put a camera and a microphone in it. Why is that patentable? Aren't Google meant to be like... clever? Or cutting edge? When I think cutting edge tech, I think new neural network archtypes or something like that.. not a cuddly toy with a microphone in it. That's like.. Apprentice levels of innovation there... and that's not a good level to be at...
It was patentable when it was a "wow, that's a clever idea" thing. That was 1998.
Ironically the new Furby has a lawsuit against it!
I just love US patents!
"The £99 Nest home alarm talks to Google's servers over the internet, offering home monitoring and alert functions."
We might also note that there is no reason whatsoever for any of these devices to "talk to Google's servers". It is perfectly possible to have a properly firewalled connection outbound from your home router and (if necessary) a dynamic DNS setup that allows you to connect directly to a web server hosted on the device itself. It is trivially easy to put up a few web pages displaying controls and stats for one of these devices: even a £10 RPiZ can do it with room and power to spare (I use one to control my otherwise temperamental combi boiler, which was surprised to find itself adapted as an Internet Thing).
Just as there is no reason for your immensely powerful phone to connect to backend servers to perform speech recognition, so it is that the connection of your Nest to Google is entirely for Google's benefit and very definitely not yours.
This is a company which makes obscene money by spying on you, and then selling you. Your life is sold and makes hundreds of dollars for Google (and Facebook and the rest of the sleazy greedmongers), and in return you get ... a few cents' worth of searches from the former, and pictures of other people's crummy dinners from the other.
When Zuckerberg described Facebook users as "dumb fucks" he was neatly summing up the massed herds of bovine internet addicts who would, it seems, buy alligator puppies—if they were shiny, or let you lie about what a great tropical vacation you had ....
Veterans of East Germany's Stasi must be crying with laughter, watching fat western idiots pay money to put cameras and microophones into their own homes, even after being shown that those devices report back to the least trustworthy, most deceitful companies on the planet. "Dumb fucks" indeed.
Screw Google they make 90s/2000s Microsoft look like a Saint... Why are they not in check yet this sort of practice should be illegal who made this "mistake" and why aren't they being fined along with Google. When people make mistakes they pay the price by being run through the system why are these turds off limits!
So run that past me again Google , the microphone is not on and is only activated if the user specifically activates the microphone which you have not told him exists or explained in the manual how to control........ which would reveal there is in fact a microphone. It almost looks like you didn't want anyone to know .... or perhaps it might accidentally be turned on
Well, thank goodness that all these Android smartphones aren't equipped with microphones.
Context: Last year I was browsing around in the depths of Google personalizations / settings, and found a collection of audio snippets that had apparently been captured by my phone. Most were random room noises. All a bit weird.
Now excuse me, got to go. It's time for me to spend a few minutes refreshing my pretending to be shopping for skimpy ladies' bikinis, so that the Google advertising that follows me around everywhere will be reset to all 'Lovely and Beautiful' for the next few weeks.
But surely these short-sighted users bear just as much responsibility for the trend as the "evil corporation" making them? Complaining about surveillance after acquiring an Alexa or a Google Home is rather like adopting a pet crocodile and complaining when it grows up and devours the children.
Why do you think these companies made them?
Thats some paranoid shit right there.
I dont have an Alexa because its a stupid pointless invention.
Google kept the mic secret because they knew perfectly well that the first questions would be (a) why is that in there? and (b) how do I ensure it is switched off, in hardware?—and I'm guessing that there is no way to switch off it in hardware, so you'll just have to trust Google (cue: hysterical laughter).
Given "Don't Be Evil's" long history of lying, at least as far back as the StreetView espionage campaign, it's fair to assume they are lying again now.
I'd be interested to see if any purchasers will now sue and demand a refund, especially if there is no easy way to ensure the mic is off or removed?
It's one thing for me to heap scorn upon fools who deliberately introduce mic- and camera-equipped devices into their homes (especially if they're naïve enough to believe manufacturers, whose entire raison d'être is spying on people, claiming foolproof privacy and anonymity guarantees) but it seems appalling, even by Google's squalid "ethics", to fit microphones to equipment secretly. (Yes, secretly: if they wanted to claim it wasn't done with deliberate malign intent, they'd have had to notify purchasers in the first place. All else is just more lies and excuses.)
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