Google’s Eavesdropping Home Mini: Who’s Watching the Watchers?

B. Shimmin
B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Digital home assistants like Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo owe users much more than privacy; if they are to be truly trusted, they must also explain how they think and how they make decisions.
  • Fortunately, regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will begin asking such questions. The only problem is that artificial intelligence (AI) may not be able to provide any answers.

Google was quick to lay blame for its recent eavesdropping Home Mini fiasco on a ‘hardware bug,’ rolling out a quick update that purportedly prevents devices from inadvertently recording and reporting on overheard conversations should their owners accidentally press the wrong button. From now on, Google Home Mini will only record what you say after you capture its attention via “Hey Google” or “Okay Google.”

In other words, it was a simple case of user error and a misunderstanding of how one intelligent home device in particular works. No more button, no more problem, right? Not even close. Continue reading “Google’s Eavesdropping Home Mini: Who’s Watching the Watchers?”