Google patches Home Mini to end inadvertant snooping

12 October 2017

Some Google Home Minis randomly or constantly records sound that are  transmitted to Google, leading to accusations of auanuthorisedly prying on users.

Artem Russakovskii of Android Police reported that the Google Home Mini he was reviewing was randomly and almost constantly recording sounds in his home and transmitting them to Google.

The issue had been acknowledged by the company, which issued a software update to resolve it. The problem appeared to be caused by the failure of the touch sensor on the top.

Smart speakers like the Google Home Mini are designed to start recording when a specific word is said like ''Hey Google'' or ''Ok Google.'' The question the user asks is then transmitted to the cloud, but there is a way to just hit a button and ask the embedded assistant a question. On the Mini, this can be done by holding one's finger down on the top of the device.

That seemed to be the problem with Russakovskii's Mini, which "thought" someone was holding a finger down on the top and so was randomly activating and recording. However, even as the lights turned on to indicate it was listening, and due to some issue with it, it started recording.

But Google says it quickly figured out the issue and created a fix. The fix, though, means a feature from the Mini would no longer be available.

Google issued the following statement, "We have learned of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Minis that could cause the touch mechanism to behave incorrectly. We are rolling out a software update today that should address the issue. If you're having any additional issues, please feel free to contact Google Support at 1-855-971-9121."

According to commentators, Russakovskii's Home Mini seems to be one out of ''a small number'' of devices that are affected by the issue. The company assures that only some of the devices given out during the event were affected, while the pre-ordered Home Mini devices are safe to use.

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