Back in May, Google published a set of privacy principles for its smart home devices, one of which said that it would provide a “clear visual indicator” when a camera is turned on and sending data to Google. Now that Google’s making good on that commitment, a lot of customers aren’t happy.
As reported by Android Police, Google is now requiring all Nest Cam, Dropcam, and Nest Hello cameras to display a status light while recording, and to blink the status light when users are live-streaming the footage. A Nest forum post announcing the change is now filled with angry comments from users who say they need the status lights to stay off, whether it’s to monitor a baby without disruption, point a camera out of a window without reflections, or surveil their property without giving away the location of outdoor cameras.
But while some Nest users may have legitimate reasons to disable their cameras’ status indicators, silent recording also has plenty of nefarious uses, such as monitoring Airbnb units without guests’ knowledge. Setting up clear expectations around disclosure was always going to create some messes, which in a way makes the decision more admirable, though that’s of little consolation to users who say their hardware is now worthless. This’ll be a good early test of whether Google sticks to the principles it’s laid out.
Reached for comment, Google reiterated the statement it posted in its Nest support forums, and said not to expect further comment.