Google's Home Mini sometimes goes bonkers and records everything... not any more

Ian Scales
By Ian Scales

Oct 12, 2017

Source: Google

Source: Google

  • Google discovers a tiny number of rogue Home Minis were recording everything 
  • Fault was traced to touch panel on the device
  • Google has decided to disable the panel just to reassure users that it can't happen... ever

What is it with connected gadgets these days? If their batteries aren’t swelling or catching fire (and you only find out after you’ve distributed thousands of the things) then they’re over-reaching their brief to record their owner’s every last movement (literally).

That’s just happened to Google which has been tremendously embarrassed by rogue Home Minis - those recently-announced ‘cheap as chips’ home assistants - which have developed a fault which causes them to record everything - that is, everything they hear happening around them.

Out of the hundreds that Google has so far distributed to journalists, bloggers and developers to review, just a handful seem to have developed the fault, according to Google.  

However, if you’re Google of all companies, a handful is just awful. For of course the Cookie Monster has a  history of being accused of  eavesdropping. Sometimes those accusations have been valid. Like the time its Google Street camera cars were discovered to be scooping up Wi-Fi transmissions complete with addresses and passwords.  After all Google was known to be an info-grabber, That’s its business, so why wouldn’t it take an opportunity to add a bit more data to the stash, especially if it just - oops look at that! - came its way as it was going about its legitimate business?  Trouble was, when discovered, Google lied and tried to cover up the whole thing, extending the scandal and increasing its intensity. That’s one thing that it’s learnt not to do again.

So when Artem Russakovskii, who runs the Android Police blog, discovered that his review model of the Google Home Mini seemed to be on all the time and recording his TV, he investigated. When he checked his activity log on his Google account there were thousands of recording events there. So Russakovskii notified Google who, sensing danger, apparently sprang into action immediately to try to find out what was going on.

They discovered that the fault lay with the ‘touch panel’ on the top of the device.  Easy fix?

Well, maybe. But on the basis that when you distribute millions of a ‘thing’ Sod’s Law says that whatever you don’t want to happen, will. It’s a statistical certainty. The only sensible thing for Google to do was to completely disable the touch panel. Which is what it’s done.

Now the only way you can control your Home Mini is as God intended - by voice command. But I for one, still won't be buying.

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