Google Discloses That Nest Home Security System Shares Video Footage with Authorities During Emergencies

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What should you value more, your privacy or your security?

black and white rectangular frame
Black and white rectangular frame showing black silhouette of a surveillance camera. Photo by Tobias Tullius

For many people, that debate is at the center as to whether or not to take advantage of many of the benefits of the digital age. After all, you might not have control over your data and, worse yet, someone might be able to use it to spy on you, among other things.

We brought you a story a couple of days ago about a privacy scandal in which smart home security devices were sharing data with local authorities in an emergency. Privacy advocates thought this was one step too far and, to some extent, consumer rights proponents agreed.

Now we have Google disclosing that the company’s Nest home security devices share video footage with authorities in emergency scenarios, CNET reports, adding a whole new wrinkle to this developing story.

From the Terms of Service quoted by CNET:

“If we reasonably believe that we can prevent someone from dying or from suffering serious physical harm, we may provide information to a government agency — for example, in the case of bomb threats, school shootings, kidnappings, suicide prevention and missing persons cases.”

You’ll recall that Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey brought Amazon and other companies to task over this issue, not arguing against the benefits of such systems, but rather warning of their abuse. Also, the fact that consumers may not be aware that their data is going to be shared in the event of an emergency doesn’t help anything.

The company further notes in their Terms of Service for Nest that they might “automatically” share such information with authorities such as “…threats to a child's safety or threats to someone's life” but the company will “provide notice if we learn that the emergency has passed.”

Do you think devices like Nest should share video footage with authorities during an emergency? Let us know in the comments below.

Check out our other photography news on Light Stalking at this link right here.

[CNET]

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Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

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