Commerce Leaders Seek Answers on Google Nest Undisclosed Microphones

February 25, 2019

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, together with Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., chairman of the Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, today sent a letter to Mr. Sundar Pichai, the chief executive officer of Google seeking information about recent news that Google had not disclosed the presence of a microphone in its Nest Secure home security device. 

Excerpt from the letter to Google CEO:

In recent years, consumers have become increasingly concerned about the ability of large technology companies to collect and use personal data about them without their consent.  Therefore, it is critically important that companies like Google be completely transparent with consumers, and provide full disclosure of all technical specifications of their products at the point of sale.  Last September, Google’s chief privacy officer testified at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (Senate Commerce Committee) that “transparency is a core value of our approach to serving users.”  That is why Google’s failure to disclose a microphone within its Nest Secure product raises serious questions about its commitment to consumer transparency and disclosure.” 

In the letter, Sens. Wicker, Thune, and Moran question Mr. Pichai on details related to when Google became aware of the undisclosed microphones, any third party using the Nest Secure microphone for any unauthorized purpose, the steps taken to inform purchasers, and Google’s process for developing technical specifications for its products.

Read the full letter to Google CEO here. The Commerce Committee exercises jurisdiction over consumer privacy and technology.