Google Nest Audio

Google Nest Audio

Google
Wi-Fi Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Super creepy

Size matters, some say. If you're a size queen or king, then the Nest Audio is for you. It's got a few inches on the Nest Mini and bigger sound. It also comes with what Google calls "smart sound" to adjust the sound to your room. With the same three built-in microphones as the Nest Mini, it's able to listen for all your commands so you can ask, "Hey Google, does size really matter?

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Google seems to do a better job than some of the other Big Tech companies when it comes to privacy (looking at you Facebook). That said, you should be aware they are a huge ad company that needs your data to sell ads. Google promises that your voice recordings won’t be used to send you personalized ads, but they admit transcript of your voice interactions with your Google smart speaker may. Google uses your personal information to show you ads all over the place like in your Gmail, in your favorite Solitaire app, on partner websites, and on YouTube. Yup, the ads are everywhere.

We do like that users are now automatically opted out of Google's human review of voice recordings, because that was super creepy. We also like that Google does try to communicate with users how they collect and use data in their Safety Center. Google does collect a ton of data on you, especially if you don't take the time to adjust your privacy settings to lock down just how much info they can gather. You should absolutely take the time to adjust these privacy settings. Just beware, you will get notifications that some things might not work right if you change settings. That’s annoying, and probably worth it for a little more privacy.

If you don't take the time, it's possible Google can get to know you really well, maybe too well. Maybe they recognize you from all the times you ordered plain cheese pizza. They know you are single because who orders plain cheese pizza? Just kidding, they know you're single because of all those pedicure appointments you've booked for one. Maybe it's OK Google knows you so well? Maybe it's creepy.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Visit privacy controls to adjust the amount of data collected
  • Delete your historical data from time to time. You can do this by saying, “Hey Google, delete this week’s activity.” or "Hey Google, that wasn't for you" to delete the last thing you said.
  • Review Nest privacy tips
mobile Privacy warning Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: Yes

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: Yes

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

While voice recordings and home environment sensor readings won't be used for ad personalization, transcripts of your voice interactions may be. Non-personally identifiable information may be shared with partners. Google says that your personal data is never sold to third parties.

Google says they keep video footage, audio recordings, and home environment sensor readings separate from advertising, and they won’t use this data for ad personalization

Google uses your personal information “to serve you relevant ads in Google products, on partner websites, and in mobile apps.” According to the company, customers own their data and it does not sell this data to third parties. Google does state it gets paid by advertisers for placing ads to you based on your personal information.

Google says they send data outside of the organization only with a user's consent.

How can you control your data?

Google provides various privacy controls, accessible via Google Privacy tools. There are several clearly defined ways to delete personal data, incl. deleting data from Nest app or deleting a whole Google Account. An autotimer can be set up for 3 or 18 month. The retention details are also listed in the Policy.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Needs Improvement

In August 2019, the company admitted that partners who work to analyze voice snippets from the Assistant leaked the voice snippets of some Dutch users. More than 1,000 private conversations were sent to a Belgian news outlet, some of the messages reportedly revealed sensitive information such as medical conditions and customer addresses.

In December 2018, a bug exposed the data of 52.5 million Google+ users

Can this product be used offline?

No

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Uses encryption in transit and at rest.

Strong password

Yes

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Google has a Security Rewards program, which means that anyone who finds a security issue and discloses it responsibly may get paid.

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

Google publishes academic papers about its AI research (https://ai.google/) and makes several tools available via open source. https://ai.google/tools/

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Google uses natural language processing to understand you and to generate answers to your requests.

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Yes

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Yes


News

Google is sending a complicated privacy email to everyone — here’s what it means
The Verge
Google is returning to having humans analyze and rate anonymized audio snippets from its users. However, it’s also taken the major step of automatically opting every single user out of the setting that allows Google to store their audio. That’s why you might be getting an email today: Google would like you to opt back in to the program, and it’s trying to provide clearer information detailing what it’s all about.
How to Use Google Privacy Settings
Consumer Reports
Google's privacy and security settings can take a little explanation to understand and use effectively. Here's a guide to the most important ones.
Is your Google Home or Nest secure? How to find and delete your private data
CNET
With Google Home or Nest in your house, you've got an always-on voice assistant that regularly records audio and almost always sends it to Google. Are you OK with that?
Thousands of Mobile Apps Leak Data from Firebase Databases
Ionut Arghire
Thousands of mobile applications running on iOS and Android have exposed over 113 gigabytes of data from 2,300 unsecured Firebase databases, enterprise mobile security firm Appthority says in a new report.
How to keep the smart speaker you got for the holidays and still keep some of your privacy, too
Vox
Smart speakers — Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Nest, Apple’s HomePod, and the like — are in approximately one-third of American homes, a number that’s sure to increase once all the cyber Monday deals have been shipped and Christmas presents have been unwrapped. But the people receiving (or giving) these digital personal assistants may not realize all the potential privacy pitfalls that come with them — or know what they can do to protect themselves from always-on listening and data collection devices.

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