Smart thermostat maker Nest has gotten a lot of criticism after it was acquired by Google. Users and fans expressed even more fears and disappointment when Google practically signed its death sentence when it put all its smart home products under the Nest brand. Most worried about the privacy implications of devices that constantly monitor people’s presence and activities being under Google’s great eye. Nest is now making a change to its line of cameras to address those concerns but has ended up infuriating users instead.
Things were probably simpler when all that Nest had were smart thermostats and smart smoke detectors and fire alarms. It has since then branched out to cameras, especially after its acquisition of Dropcam, including both indoor cameras for monitoring babies and outdoor security cameras. This new venture, however, is one that has raised privacy questions in light of Google’s ownership.
Nest has responded but not in a way that owners have expected. In a nutshell, the company is saying that Nest camera’s status lights will always be on whenever the camera is recording. This is to ensure owners that the cameras are only recording when they tell it too and that no one else is recording them without their knowledge.
Unfortunately, there are some cases when users will want to have the lights turned off. That’s especially true for outdoor security cameras as they need to be clandestine so as not to give would be criminals a clue. Even just as simple as not distracting babies when recording can be a valid use case for turning off the light.
Nest’s announcement seems to be universally disliked and it remains to be seen if the company will revert its decision. It has to find a better solution to providing the privacy that users demand without removing features that they also need.