Google Nest Cams

Google Nest Cams

Google
Wi-Fi

Review date: Nov. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Super creepy

Surveillance cameras are everywhere these days. If you want to jump on the bandwagon, Google's indoor and outdoor Nest Cams offers HD video, 24/7 recording, alert you when they detect motion, have multiple microphone for detecting loud noises, and intelligent alerts can tell a person from a thing and then alert you so can yell at the person, not the thing. Which is either handy when it comes to chasing away bad guys, or tons of fun when it comes to scaring the pants off that buddy who’s looking after your cat.

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 security and privacy. That said, you should be aware they are a huge ad company that needs your data to sell ads. So while they say video and audio recordings won't be used to target you with ads, transcripts of your voice interactions 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.

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 lot 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.

What’s the worst that could happen? Well, we suppose you could catch your neighbor dancing naked on cam in front of their window and then never be able to look at them the same ever again, making those neighborhood BBQs quite awkward. One more thing, Google's own device chief says homeowners should warn guests they are near a microphone (or video camera) potentially recording them when they visit your home if you own a device like this. We think that is good advice.

Tips to protect yourself

mobile Privacy warning Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: Yes

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 auto timer 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

Google provides a page with privacy information about Nest.

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

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?
Student finds privacy flaws in connected security and doorbell cameras
Tech Explore
Ring, Nest, SimpliSafe and eight other manufacturers of internet-connected doorbell and security cameras have been alerted to "systemic design flaws" discovered by Florida Tech computer science student Blake Janes that allows a shared account that appears to have been removed to actually remain in place with continued access to the video feed.

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