Senators question Google about the microphone in Nest security system

Nest Secure Review
Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

The revelation the Google-owned Nest home security system comes with a previously undisclosed microphone built into it hasn’t just worried consumers — it’s made it all the way to the United States Legislature. Members of the Senate Commerce Committee have sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking the executive to answer some pressing questions about the microphone.

Roger Wicker, R-MS, the head of the committee, was joined by Senators Jerry Moran, R-KS, and John Thune, R-SD, in seeking answers from Pichai. The senators are looking to find out when Google realized a microphone was included in their system, when the company recognized that it failed to mention the mic in the device specs provided to consumers, and what steps Google has taken to inform Nest owners that the devices contain a microphone.

In addition to looking for details about Google’s knowledge of the issue, the senators also want to know if the microphone has ever been used, either by Google or by a third-party that may have been given or gained access to the mic. If such activity did take place, it could represent a significant breach of privacy for Nest owners who may have been eavesdropped on without their knowledge.

The senators have six questions that they are looking to get answers for. Google will have until March 12 to provide a response to the letter. The senators told Google that they expect the company to be “completely transparent” with their customers and provide “full disclosure” of all information that would be relevant to consumers, even reminding the company that its chief privacy officer previously testified saying “transparency is a core value of our approach to serving users.”

The questions for Google come at an opportune time for members of Congress, as there are several hearings focused on privacy set to be held on Capitol Hill this week. On February 27, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing called “Policy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework in the United States.” The next day, the House Consumer Protection Subcommittee will take up a similar issue with a hearing called  “Protecting Consumer Privacy in the Era of Big Data.” It’s safe to say Google will likely receive scrutiny at both.

Product Review

Simple and reliable, Apple's AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds

Apple’s AirPods wireless headphones have dominated the market essentially since they hit stores in December 2016. Though not without some faults, they cracked the connectivity code to rank among the best fully wireless earbuds you can…

Flex your thumbs (and your brain) with these fun texting games

Gaming consoles keep getting more advanced, but you can still have fun with the good old Latin alphabet. Here are our picks for the best texting games, so you can make the most fun out of that limited data plan or basic cell phone.

HMD Global admits Nokia 7 Plus handsets sent user data to China

Nokia could be in some hot water. According to recent reports, Nokia 7 models may be secretly sending data to China without the user knowing about it. Nokia says that the issue was a software bug and that it has been fixed.

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. But with so many subreddits to choose from, exploring them can be overwhelming. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Smart Home

These best outdoor security cameras will keep porch pirates at bay

Worried about porch pirates stealing your packages, or intruders entering your home? Always be in the know about who or what is on your property by installing one of these outdoor security cameras.
Smart Home

Your Instant Pot can do it all. Research says it has another important function

Researchers at Dakota State University tested a variety of pressure cookers for sterilization and found that Instant Pot provides enough pressure and heat to kill off food-spoiling bacteria.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Need some help? Here's our handy step-by-step guide on how to Airbnb your home

Getting ready to make your home a great rental? Here's how to Airbnb your home with the right amenities, insurance, supplies, and everthing else that you need. Use this guide to get started without making beginner mistakes!

Dyson sale shatters prices on vacuums just in time for spring cleaning

Steep price cuts on Dyson vacuum cleaners for the spring cleaning season help you save money on the tools you need to do the job. We've found the best discounts on Dyson vacuums from Amazon and Walmart and put them all in one place.

Amazon slashes prices on Echo devices that play Alexa’s sweetest-sounding music

Amazon slashed prices on Alexa-controlled Echo devices with the best music sound quality. All Alexa smart speakers stream music, but some sound better than others. Save on Echo Plus and the Echo Sub bundled with Echo and Echo Plus speakers.
Product Review

Simple and small, the Google Home Hub is your low-key smart screen

What’s small, simple, cute, and lacks a camera? The Google Home Hub is the latest smart display to hit the market. Powered by Google Assistant, there’s a lot to like about this device.
Smart Home

Arlo listens to feedback, improves video quality for its premier security camera

Arlo relaunched its flagship Arlo Ultra 4K HDR security camera system with worldwide availability. Arlo fixed issues from a limited early release and now the marquee brand is available in multiple configurations with A.I-driven monitoring.

Apple March 2019 Event Coverage

Apple’s next event will take place March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. PT. We’ve got a handy guide on how to watch, but don’t expect to see any new iPads, iMacs, or AirPods at the show, all of…

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.