Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Google Forcing Nest Cameras’ Visual Indicator Light To Be On (mattcrampton.com)
185 points by revicon 61 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 155 comments



As a Nest owner with multiple cameras, I find it hilarious that no real features have been introduced in years, and this is what they come up with instead.

If they would spend more time shipping features I might not care as much but they have done nothing and instead they ship this stupid “feature”. They don’t allow us to train the cameras to ignore moving trees or shadows, repetitive noise like birds cawing, or fix their “familiar face” functionality. I’ve had complete strangers identified as being a familiar face, and I’ve also had cars identified as a familiar face.

Google is a terrible consumer product company.


My thoughts exactly! I've had outdoor nest cameras for a couple of years now and was expecting at some point it'd learn that the trees moving or bugs flying across the camera were not interesting but nope...... we get this...

It seems like I'm not the only one annoyed at nest lately though. I actually backed a indiegogo last week called Camect that hopefully will fix a lot of these issues and you don't even need to replace the nest cameras, though you can if you want to. I recommend checking it out!


Nest thermostats are also very stupid. The 'smart' mode tries to build a schedule of activity based on how much you walk past the specific spot on the wall where your thermostat is, and predict when to heat the house based on that. It's garbage, we (and everyone else I know) just sets a schedule like a normal thermostat.

Given Google has access to my and my partner's calendars, why not link them and use that instead, and cut the AI shit?


Or the weather. Or the real time price of electricity. Or high-demand periods. Or the learned heat retention capability of a particular home. Or a ton of other things that have never been implemented.


Given how much potential there is to make a vastly superior Nest-like thermostat, why hasn't anyone done it?


I actually dropped my Nest thermostat for an Ecobee. With the temp sensors it’s been vastly superior.

My house has two floors but a single Hvac zone. The ecobee is set to consider temp from both upstairs and downstairs during the day but only cares about upstairs at night. It also circulates the air in the house every hour for a bit.

The end result has been far and away better than before in terms of efficiency and comfort.


I'm an Ecobee user as well, what I really want is better vent control room-by-room and I want it integrated into the thermostat.

There are companies like Keen selling net-connected vent baffles, but the price is still really prohibitive. Like $1500 to do a house prohibitive. And then it's still not integrated with the thermostat.

An Ecobee-compatible vent baffle for $30-$50? That would be a no-brainer.


Because the market is actually pretty small for expensive thermostats. I bought the original version of the Nest thermostat because I wanted to remotely control it via my phone. Most of the smart features are horrible, the AI is dumb, and the fact that controlling it depends on a server that may be EOL'd scares me.

Most thermostats are in the neighborhood of $25-$50, so $250 for a thermostat that offers marginal utility is a hard sell.


I think at some future the point the utilities are going to be more involved than they are right now.

At this point in time you see some utilities offering setback thermostats (smart and non-smart) as a way to help smooth demand during peak usage periods.

Some of the better ones run promotions and offer rebates on Nests and Ecobees, but these units still are completely dumb when it comes to talking to the utilities. My electricity provider has real-time pricing and smart meters (with Zigbee interfaces) that are connected to HQ, but there is still no way to move that information to the wall unit. They offer a 3G-connected modulation unit for A/C compressors, but that's directly connected to HQ and the consumer has no other way to interact with it other than overriding it.

If things really start getting bad out there (e.g. Texas this week^), that will be the motivation to improve this ecosystem.

^ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-12/searing-t...


Everybody who gets a smart thermostat needs to keep their old one in a box for the day the server gets EOL or the device and/or network gets hacked. When that happens, you aren't going to be able to go to HomeDepot and buy a new dumb thermostat.


Dumb thermostats will always exist. You could also preemptively wire one up right now in series with your smart thermostat to act as a safeguard against extreme settings.


One in series and one in parallel!


Because no one actually gives a shit about $0.50 savings per day.

Nest isn't popular because of its functionality, it's popular because it's associated with Google and trendy to own. It's going to be hard for another company to break into that market.


The Honeywell Lyrics actually geofence you via their mobile app- it works so much better, its literally set and forget. We have our geofence ring at a 10 block radius around our home. You can combine that with preferred day and night temperatures, and never have to worry about it again. It paid for itself the first month I bought it (I had a dumb thermostat prior). Come home early? No worries. Come home late and don't want to heat/cool an empty house? No worries. Go on vacation? No worries.

I actually just moved a few weeks ago and have nests, and aside from looking a bit prettier on the wall, they are far inferior. I kind of want to replace them, but am hesitant since people coo over them.

The fact that no one talks about Honeywell reminds me of Zune back in the day. It was (ok arguably) a better product, everyone that had one loved it, but it just didn't seem "cool" since it was made from an old-school company and died on the vine.


I'm always shocked by the lack of integration among Google's various products. The amount of time my Google Home replies to a simple question with "I'm not sure how to help with that" is mind-boggling. Some variation of "I don't have a great answer, but I've sent some Google search results to your phone to review!" seems like an infinitely better (and obvious) alternative for the global leader in search, but they've for some reason ignored this for years.


It kind of gives me some comfort that even Google can't get cross team collaboration right. Makes me feel less bad about the dysfunctions at the places I've worked at...


The dumbest thing is they show us 10 days worth of temperatures when in fact year over year is what matters the most. It is a stupidly neutered product due to stupidity and could be so much more useful than it actually is. As I said before, Google can’t produce consumer products. They are turning into the Microsoft of the 21st century, with one good product (search) and a host of shitty products.


I've only recently purchased a Nest doorbell... but the comments here and some quick searching suggest I'd be far better off purchasing the remainder of my cameras from somewhere that is in the business of selling hardware like Ubiquiti, and then either using local storage (with sync to personal cloud) or something like this Camect thing.

At the very least, it looks like the lack of exposed onvif / rtsp on Nest cameras is an issue that will mean I can't avoid the high subscription price and bandwidth use (and it's the bandwidth that bugs me, I'd rather store HQ to disk locally whilst transcode to a lower def for the cloud, and then have it be my cloud accounts).


As a nest cam owner, I would recommend taking a look at Wyze cams. They’re around $30usd on amazon and use SD cards for storage and playback. They have alerting/zones, night vision and voice capabilities. The ux for playback isn’t as polished as nest, but no subscription fees or third-party storage plus affordability make it compelling IMO.

I just cancelled the ~$11/mo, 10-day playback subscription for all but one of my nest cams.


Have a look at Ring also. I’ve been a happy user of their doorbell, cameras and security system. The app is updated regularly and they come out with new products all the time.

Disclaimer: I work for Amazon, in a job unrelated to Ring


This[1] is why I will never have a Ring doorbell camera. The slippery slope is becoming a vertical drop; Amazon (with the best of intentions, surely) is conditioning people to allow warrantless wiretaps and searches as if they are the new normal.

[1] https://www.engadget.com/2019/08/06/ring-coaching-police-foo...


A product owned by Amazon would be the bottom of my list.

I have concerns with how Amazon love to collect data, mine data, use it to find new profit areas.

Applying this logic to Ring produces not-nice outcomes.


I'd settle for decent video seeking on the web and proper timezone support (both of which Dropcam had years ago).


Because they are an ad company and ads revenue has nothing to do with your satisfaction.


Not sure why this was downvoted - except maybe the "nothing to do with your satisfaction" part being a bit over exaggerated. Google's priority is ad rev. Everything else is secondary.

It's like being an airplane engineer for a living, making great money, and then promising your neighbor that you'll fix the brakes on their car for 20 bucks. Maybe...one day, when you're bored, you'll get around to it, but it's definitely not your priority.


> Google's priority is ad rev. Everything else is secondary.

Exactly my point. Even your user experience, privacy, security, developer experience is secondary. There are many examples of these being ignored on the internet. I gave up on Android because of the broken UX. I cannot just keep turning off spellcheck on my phone/tablet after every Android update when it resets back to the defaults. iOS has much better UX from this point of view, I "waste" significantly less time on fighting with the OS.


This seems equivalent to security theater in response to misplaced fear and mistrust over cameras in general. I understand why they felt pressured to make this change (and the "good" PR it results in), but I can't help but shake the fact that, well, it doesn't actually do anything.

Bad actors will just disable the light in a myriad of ways. People will still mistrust cameras because the light can be disabled. Drawing over the light with permanent marker (or doing something temporary like putting tape over it) doesn't even create a small barrier of entry for people secretly recording. If they want to secretly record, it's not significantly harder now than it was yesterday.

The only thing this is supposed to accomplish is appeasing people that don't understand technology yet make a ruckus over Google disrespecting privacy. Now Google can say "no look, we do!" and those people will complain about something else.


The LED needs to be connected to the power lead on the camera. Then it cannot be hacked via the software.

Also, microphones and cameras need physical switches to enable them, not software switches. Preferably with an LED indicator too.

This is what I did with the electric fuel pump on my car. A dash light connected to the power lead, and a physical switch. There's also a low oil pressure switch that'll interrupt the power to the fuel pump.


This is not practical, if I use it as a baby cam I want the light to be off.


We have been using it to watch our non-verbal young autistic son in bed. I know a tiny light in a pitch black room keeps him awake for many hours of the night and he doesn’t do being awake quietly so it also keeps us awake. We also can’t just remove the camera, it’s not like he is able to tell us that he has wet his bed. Having been given zero days notice of this change means I’m going to have to take time off work today to go home to find an effective way to put some tape over the light.

I have been holding back on deciding which home automation ecosystem I want to buy into. I was leaning towards Google and Nest was our first step into that direction. However I’m now increasingly of the opinion that I should just continue to build it out with devices where I have control over the firmware.


[flagged]


Yes I could ask my heavily pregnant wife to carry a ladder upstairs and spend the time experimenting with things to try cover the LED and engage her extra sensory perception to look after my son downstairs at the same time since he is at home today because the schools are closed until the end of the holidays.

I guess that’s the kind of massively unlikely scenario that you never imagined could be possible ;)


If the first and only place your mind goes is to child neglect, then you should examine your thinking, and temper your accusations toward someone who no doubt already has enough to deal with.

An obvious explanation would be that the child is in care/education during the day while the parent works.


This trait is very common in today's world. I'd even argue it's one of the major catalysts for the vitriolic change we've seen in public discourse lately. Those who are the most vocal have a pathological problem with always going to the worst possible outcome, and presuming that's what is going to happen. My late mother was ridden with this.


1. Pretty much every audio baby monitor in existence has an LED on it, those cause no problems.

2. Duct tape/sharpie


(1) Not a blinking one, though. That's a little more annoying.

(2) there's a nice product called LightDims that are removable. Little stickers that are about 95% opaque.


> (2) there's a nice product called LightDims that are removable. Little stickers that are about 95% opaque.

You can also use colored electrical tape as it is opaque (buy quality tape like the 3M brand). I've found that the best colors to use are white or yellow. Other colors work too but let less light through like red, magenta, and blue. Though those darker colors are beneficial for very bright LEDs.

I taped over all the annoying LED's on my router, switch, and low power server which live in my bedroom on my desk. It went from discotheque to barely noticeable.


It is practical.

The light could be designed to not be disruptive even to a baby, or you could build a physical switch into the device to turn the light off.

It just shouldn't be remotely configurable because that undermines some of the purpose of the indicator.


If it’s connected to a physical switch you could still turn it off.


I wouldn't trust it as a baby cam - the Nest or anything that relies on wifi. If you do, probably a good idea to add a cheap audio monitor as well.


Why not? I've been using one for two years now. It works fine, and allows me to 'roam' a bit farther than a simple RF transmitter.


I tried a Nest but went back to an IP camera because the Nest can't be monitored off a local feed — it has to go to the cloud first. Most of the time when I'm looking at the baby monitor I'm at home. Requiring me to send it to the cloud before seeing it on my local device is bad for two reasons:

1: If the internet goes out, I can't even monitor locally. With IP cameras, it doesn't matter if the internet goes out.

2: Since the camera is always transmitting to the cloud, I don't want to use a very high-resolution option, which would eat up too much upstream bandwidth. What I really want is to have moderate-quality footage going to the cloud and high-def footage whenever I go to check it in real time. With an IP camera, it's only transmitting when I'm actually connected to the feed.


Vastly more ways for it to fail without being immediately obvious to the user.


One solution is to apply some sharpie or electrical tape to the light.


Same - hugely frustrating.


A low-power red LED shouldn't be keeping anyone awake.


You dont get to pick what keeps infants and toddlers awake, my dude.


I don't believe that most children would be bothered by a single, dim red LED. If your child is, it's easy to cover it a bit of electrical tape. So arguing against a feature with clear and significant security value because you don't want to risk the possibility of having to fiddle with tape is silly, my dude.


This is how iSight is designed, no?


No. Everything I've seen indicates it's much improved over the pre-2008 iSight[1], but still not hard-wired to the power rails.

[1] On those early models it was relatively trivial to upload malicious firmware which was widely reported and verified.


> No. Everything I've seen indicates it's much improved over the pre-2008 iSight, but still not hard-wired to the power rails.

Everything I’ve seen is the exact opposite. Care to share a source confirming your belief?


Other than physical access to the camera (at which point they will more likely just install their own cameras), how precisely could attackers disable the light in any plausible ways? I’ll offer one for free:

1) “Forcing Google to do so through a government court order that leads to a firmware update to that specific camera”

What other methods besides “issue Google-signed firmware to the device” are you implying exist (“a myriad of ways”), that are obvious enough to be taken for granted without further explanation?

I can’t see them, and so unfortunately I must request that explanation.


> how precisely could attackers disable the light in any plausible ways?

The light is software controlled, as this very change clearly demonstrates. The fact Google can turn and off the light at a whim suggests an attacker could. Your defense of this being possible is based on a vague theory of infallible security.

You even seem to use a fictional quote to that end:

> What other methods besides “issue Google-signed firmware to the device” are you implying exist

Who are you quoting? What are you quoting? And where can I read up on google's infallible firmware signing strategy that you're implying has the ability to block exploits and bugs?

Despite claims to the contrary you're less "requesting an explanation" and more making several unsupported security claims, then asking people to refute your claims as if they were factual in nature.

If this device was as secure as you imply that would be quite unique for smart home devices in general, and software in general for that matter.


Nest historically used firmware updates to do this stuff, I see no explanation why Google would vary that practice for something they’re doing to gain trust. They could be so absurdly stupid that they software control that lamp off from their servers as a permanent solution, but I think they have more wits about them than that. As you point out, it’s a terrible idea; and it’d wreck them in the press if that was their final answer.


Please reread Someone1234’s comment.

In my words: Nest devices had security issues in the past [1]. It’s very likely that they still have issues today (like most software). Once a hacker gains enough control of the device she can turn off the led because it’s software controlled[2].

[1] https://gizmodo.com/this-nest-security-flaw-is-remarkably-du...

[2] https://www.grahamcluley.com/webcam-spying-without-turning-l...


That is not an answer to the question you were asked.

"And where can I read up on google's infallible firmware signing strategy that you're implying has the ability to block exploits and bugs?"

I have no clue where on the scale of "state action" -> "bribed/coerced insider" -> "disgruntled ex google employee" -> "Elbonian strip kiddie" you need to be to "control that lamp", but I'm 100% certain that the reality is that the capability to revert this new lamp behaviour is not exclusively in the hands of authorised Google employees...

It's exactly the same as the current encryption bullshit. If there's a backdoor for law enforcement, there's a backdoor. If there's a remote way for Google to update the Nest software - there's an exploitable remote way to update the software.


>If there's a remote way for Google to update the Nest software - there's an exploitable remote way to update the software.

This is (quite obviously?) wrong. One doesn't imply the other at all in any way shape or form. If this were true, there wouldn't be a single device on the planet, including phones, servers, etc. with remote update functionality that would be secure, ever.

Also

>If there's a backdoor for law enforcement, there's a backdoor.

duh? But I think what you are trying to imply is that "there is a backdoor that criminals could use" - which is also wrong. As long as the implementation is correct and the key isn't leaked, this is completely secure. Of course it'd be insane to have one key being able to unlock essentially all communication within a huge system, because chances are it might be leaked eventually, but that has absolutely zero impact on the fundamental possibility of making this system secure.


> If this were true, there wouldn't be a single device on the planet, including phones, servers, etc. with remote update functionality that would be secure, ever.

You're so, so close to waking up from the matrix. Very excited to have you join us in the real world soon! Follow the white rabbit.


If it's on a network and connected to the internet, it can be hacked.

Perhaps malicious code will be produced which will only take single frame shots, never staying on cycle long enough to trigger the light.

Or it will go unnoticed because it flashes on and off so quickly.


I will concede that it’s technically plausible to chain an RCE persistent attack to it somehow, and hopefully that pays out a significant bounty!


When I think of bad guys with cameras, I think of Airbnb scams and the like hiding cameras in a home/office/etc. When they have physical access to the camera, there's a million ways to disable the light ranging from nail polish to opening it up and rewiring it.

I wasn't even considering remote attackers, but I'd imagine it's not a large step from [compromising a remote camera such that you can remotely record] to [compromising a remote camera such that you can control other software features while remotely recording].

I admit this update does make it a bit more difficult (for now?) for remote hackers to secretly record people; I'd be interested to see how prevalent that is compared to people actually just recording people with their own cameras.


Putting tape over it.


Remotely?


You could mount a tape dispenser on a robot platform, but it’s not really “plausible”.


There are real positive effects from this change, though -- in particular, it does prevent a remote attacker from viewing the camera undetected.


This was already solved, however. If one was worried about this, one could have set the option to leave the light on when recording.


The most likely threat model for someone being able to access your camera feed is that they compromise your Nest/Google account. In which case they just turn the light right back off.


Better to just put a shutter on the camera.

Oh wait, that breaks Google's business model of spying on people, plus it does nothing to the microphones on this thing.

(Yes, a shutter that blocks microphones can be designed, but it's a hard problem.)


Exactly. As long as the LED is disable-able via software it's placebo.


This feels like a double edged sword. On one hand, yay, now I'll know for sure that the camera is on and I'm being watched.

On the other hand, we know that the light is obviously software controlled, so now we're going to get people used to the idea that "light on == camera on/ light off == camera off", and then when the camera gets inevitably hacked, people will be a lot less cautious if the light is off, assuming the camera is off.


Right. I mean, could you just like, dab it with a black permanent marker? I don't know what this light looks like.


"About the glowing red light on the pre 12v Bus which was my constant 'little worry' on many night trips: there were many, many explanations. All seemed valid and I really appreciate them all, but the cat who seemed to have the best grip on the problem suggested painting the button with heavy red fingernail polish so I couldn't see the dim glow, but could still see when the light actually came on."

-- How To Keep Your Volkswagon Alive


i think the obvious solution would be to have the light in series with the power to the camera, so that in order for the camera to be on, the light will also have to be on


Early macbooks tried to do something like this, but got it wrong. The camera unit had a bunch of pins, including a "STANDBY" pin which turns off the sensor, and they wired the green LED directly to the standby pin.

But then in 2013 some researchers figured out that actually the camera unit is an entire system-on-a-chip, with a configuration register accessible on an i2c bus, so they could write some malware which first re-configures the camera to ignore the standby signal, and then turn it on...

The paper notes that many camera units have a separate power connection for the CMOS sensor itself, which would be more secure. And I hope later-model macbooks have fixed it. But I guess this shows that it possible to get even seemingly bullet-proof solutions wrong.

https://jscholarship.library.jhu.edu/handle/1774.2/36569

(As a more practical problem, I have also seen suggestions that it's possible to turn on the camera, take a photo, and turn it back off again too quick for the LED to be noticable, and if you do that several times per second you could capture low-frame-rate video without the green light, so even a hardware solution might not be perfectly secure.)


> As a more practical problem, I have also seen suggestions that it's possible to turn on the camera, take a photo, and turn it back off again too quick for the LED to be noticable, and if you do that several times per second you could capture low-frame-rate video without the green light, so even a hardware solution might not be perfectly secure.

It's trivial to add a capacitor or hardware timer to illuminate indication light for some time after the camera loses power.


Your wording implies more-recent Macbooks no longer bother with this security feature. I believe I've read elsewhere they actually switched to a custom control board which renders this hack impossible. Is that not the case?


I didn't mean to imply that, sorry.


Even when they thought it was a hardware button it was still a software one just at a deeper layer? Good cautionary tale!

Wonder if malware could do reconfigure some chips (not necessarily macbook one) to go into parasitic power mode or something, that is when the power is supposedly off they keep running with power taken from some data connection.


This is how Power Nap works. Even though the lid is closed and your laptop is supposedly asleep (on battery or AC), the software can still wake it occasionally.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204032


Siphoning power from a data connection is sci-fi and not at all how Power Nap works. It's just a fancy sleep mode plus a timer.


I don't know what you mean by sci fi?

Consider this sensor https://martybugs.net/electronics/tempsensor/hardware.cgi

If someone used such a sensor and overlooked the parasitic mode, then that could be used even when the power was physically shut off.


You appear to be suggesting that a temperature sensor and a MacBook in Power Nap mode use similar amounts of power. That is not the case.

Even in the webcam case, powering the camera CCD would take significantly more power than is supplied by the data line. You can derive this for yourself without taking one apart by realizing that the power is supplied separately for a reason.

Further, it's not the case that this would work when the power is "physically shut off". If there's no power then there's no power.


The obvious solution is to make this a regulatory requirement.

You want to sell cameras in this country? The on indicator light must be hard wired.

With exception for some professional grade equipment, or the ability to physically cover the indicator light when the recording environment requires it, for whatever reason.


If I want to buy a camera to place in my own home without having it light up (and without having to mod it), that's my business.

I understand what you're getting at: you want to protect average people from predatory device manufacturers who would make an Internet-connected camera and then spy on their customers.

But requiring non-disableable lights by law has unintended consequences.


> If I want to buy a camera to place in my own home without having it light up (and without having to mod it), that's my business.

> I understand what you're getting at: you want to protect average people from predatory device manufacturers who would make an Internet-connected camera and then spy on their customers.

> But requiring non-disableable lights by law has unintended consequences.

Just wanted to mention, it's illegal to sell a phone with camera in Japan that does not make an audible shutter sound. Japanese people don't seem to be too bothered by it.


Like the freedom to do with your possessions pretty much what you damn well please as long as you stay within the limits of the law.

Besides, in the best case we would get what we had with DVD-players almost twenty years ago. Each DVD-player sold could read only the DVD's released in its region. Until you entered some code with the remote control; then it could play every DVD you threw at it.


This is one of those comments that, from my perspective, tries to sound smart by saying "Ah! Implementing you're idea will inconvenience me and have unintended consequences! GOTCHA!"

But seems to intentionally disregards that I did try to address your concerns in my previous comment.

I did write "With exceptions for some ... equipment, or the ability to physically cover the indicator light when ... recording ... for whatever reason."

Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith. - https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Of course, and that's how most webcams work. But my point was with this particular camera, they clearly didn't build it that way, but now they're going to make people think they did, and that's what is dangerous here.


I originally got an Amazon Tap instead of an Echo because it required hitting a button to listen.

Then they added an all setting that let me toggle the always on capability and I realized it was just a software button and that in theory it could listen in whenever and I'd never know. The lack of reliable user controlled methods of limiting recording devices is disappointing. Is there some sort of sound dampening material that could be made into a cover for devices like this?



>On one hand, yay, now I'll know for sure...

But we won't know for sure. As you say in the next line, it's software controlled, so it could be showing the light and recording nothing, or vice versa, or behaving as documented.


The implication is that most people will assume it hasn’t been hacked and is therefore lit when on.


I love that Google’s commitment to privacy is mucking with the LED on a camera instead of anything, you know, meaningful.

Like, maybe not tracking your every movement, search, interest, thought, fear, and desire to turn you into clicks for money?

Or hey, maybe give you total control of the information they collect on you?

Nah, let’s turn the LED on and tout our commitment to privacy!


> Or hey, maybe give you total control of the information they collect on you?

What's wrong with "My Activity"? It gives you access to all data stored in your account and lets you delete all or pieces of it.

https://myactivity.google.com/


Hopefully, sooner rather than later, a Google-Snowden will emerge revealing the truth about Googles data collection and truth about if that data really is being deleted.


Maybe I'm an optimist, but that seems like it'd be high risk for very low gain, given the likelihood that almost nobody ever even looks at that page let alone deletes stuff, and the penalties for lying about deleting things, especially in Europe, would probably be pretty steep.


That page also lets you „pause“ your activity recording. I would be pretty pissed if that didn’t work, because so far that means that it shows me no actual recorded information (they still have my emails though)


Let's you hide data. I'm not sure I believe it's deleted.


That would cause problems with the GDPR and saying "We have deleted it" and then not deleting it is the type of thing that invites lawsuits.


"being able to prove they didn't delete it" is a somewhat higher bar that you probably need to at least consider before starting that lawsuit...

I've been discussing/arguing recently about whether being able to prove you've deleted the encryption keys for PII that you have on on long term backups/archives is something we'd want to explain to a judge or jury while the opposing counsel keeps saying "But they didn't delete the data! Show me when they deleted the data!"


> "being able to prove they didn't delete it" is a somewhat higher bar that you probably need to at least consider before starting that lawsuit...

> I've been discussing/arguing recently about whether being able to prove you've deleted the encryption keys for PII that you have on on long term backups/archives is something we'd want to explain to a judge or jury while the opposing counsel keeps saying "But they didn't delete the data! Show me when they deleted the data!"

What would an implementation of that look like? Would it rely on hardware keys or something? Because otherwise, even if you can prove you deleted a key (which seems very hard to prove a negative), how can you prove that no copy of the key exists? The same questions can be had for plain unencrypted data deletion as well.


People that fall under GDPR is small compared to the total population using google.

While I may be more confident if I was under GDPR, I'm not and I fear the same safeguards will not be in place.

Similiar to how laws prevent your own country from spying on you but getting another country to spy on your own citizens is not.


About 6.7% of the world population live in the EU (yes this is horrible estimate of the proportion of people in the world who use google as many people don’t have access to the internet). So google would either have to use something to identify which people are in which realm, risking massive fines if they stuff up, then only apply the safeguards for the GDPR people.

This seems a rather complex thing to do when the cheaper solution would be to just not bother. I don’t trust google but I do expect companies to be lazy and avoid doing heaps of work for no financial benefit.

The benefit that google obtains from our data is in using it to train their ML tech. So after it has been milked for its statistical value as personised data it doesn’t have much worth.


I have two of these cameras in a window, so they can see outside. Keeping the LED on all the time makes them useless at night from reflections, so I always turn it off.

It seems really wrong that I am "allowed" to add electrical tape, but not to click a checkbox.


Nail polish is my favorite annoying LED hider.


Same config -- right inside a window. It took three layers of tiny tape squares to conceal the light on mine today. The cameras run pretty hot and the adhesive is going to make a gooey mess.


I use AC foil tape for this sort of thing. It's expensive but there are so many project uses.


I do the same, this breaks that.


Do I not own these cameras? I don't think they should be able to retroactively change this behavior.

As a consumer of 5 of these things I hate them glowing at me. Any sane person should simply assume that if a camera is aimed at you it is recording...


I wonder if you do actually own them. These days you can never be sure.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wn949b/how-corporations-u...


Here's my low tech solution to random LEDs from electronics in my bedroom while I sleep: electrical tape.


Black nail polish also works well to "hide" obnoxious LEDs.


Harder to remove


Also the light is nice to have for maintenance, and when "OK google" is active.

It also shows boot status..


That's also the solution to the blinking 12:00 on the VCR.


Genuine question: how do you feel about Apple preventing Japanese users from disabling the camera "click" on iPhones when they first came out?[1]

1. https://www.wired.com/2008/07/pervert-alert-j/


I have no issues as long as the device was not changed after it was sold.

Being able to disable the light was a feature, now it is not. I likely would have not bought these if the ability to disable the light was not a shipping feature.

And I would really not care if all new devices being activated did not have this feature. But I do care that my devices will stop working one way and start working another way.


Pretty sure that's by law in Japan.


As far as I can tell, it's merely convention and not the law to have this sound in Japan.


Here’s an article that seems to explain this better. Not sure if it is accurate, but I think it is. TLDR; it is a carrier requirement for the market. Not a law, but still a required feature.

https://articles.inqk.net/2018/02/09/japan-iphone-shutter.ht...


It’s by law in Japan.


I don't think it's the law: it's just something that carriers will ask for before selling the phone.


And I was just it with the update. Lights glowing all over my house.

My wife just freaked out and wanted to know why the lite was on, she says it makes her feel uncomfortable.

Result? I have started making designing my own cameras and will be replacing the nest ones with something I have more control over.

I feel like I should be able to get a refund on all these stupid devices now.


Is it open source? If not, then no, you don't own the software on it.

This is why FOSS matters.


But it's my camera


Clearly it's not.


This should be the top comment.

If a car mfg forced driving lights remotely and killed your ability to run and operate the car without the driving lights I feel like this issue would get more clear resistance. The workarounds are cute but the alarming issue is that we paid for these things with XYZ capabilities and specifically someone thought this feature was good enough to build and ship and maintain for years. Now that feature is removed, I guess this invalidates the previous use case to have had it. It seems fair that new cameras would have this “feature” baked in, old cameras notta. Same use case for the car scenario.


>If a car mfg forced driving lights remotely and killed your ability to run and operate the car without the driving lights I feel like this issue would get more clear resistance.

This actually already happens: case in point, Tesla (https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/attachments/notifications-co...).

I find the lack of negative press over this disturbing, to say the least- this will kill someone someday.


Tesla have also shown themselves to be untrustworthy with this capability:

https://electrek.co/2016/03/05/tesla-hacker-musk-replies/


What use case are they trying to solve for? It's confusing to me. Especially this:

>On Nest Cam, Dropcam, and Nest Hello, the status light will blink when the camera’s live video is streamed from the Nest app. The setting to turn this off will be removed.

So now someone trying to break into my house will know that no one is looking at them on the camera so it's all clear?

Edit for formatting, sorry, I don't post ever.


> What use case are they trying to solve for?

Watching a house-guest/renter getting naked


No, because that's worked around with tape on the led. I think the use case that they are trying to solve for is to avoid camera owners unintentionally recording activities of other people who are unaware that they are being recorded, and then ending up with footage that they probably wished they hadn't captured because it makes them feel pervy. Maybe parent setting it up for security but ending up with videos of their teenage kid making out...


This is a great change particularly with respect to guests being in other houses (visiting friends, Airbnb, ...)


So no more /r/airbnbporn?


Those LEDs should be in-series with the camera's sensor power circuit. No software control at all.


Just so we understand it correctly. The LED is software controlled and therefore it being illuminated or dark signifies only that it's illuminated or dark and nothing more.


"When the camera is on, the status light will glow blue." Blue?? Really?! At least - one can always use black tape and "turn it off" for good.


We use Nest cams for a baby/child monitor at nighttime. Haven’t seen the change yet, but I suspect it will make it so that this use case no longer works.


Just put a small bit of electrical tape over the LED. Problem solved.


I think some people prefer the asthetics of their electronics without tape


I'm the total minority here obviously but anyhow..

First of all if you have a camera indicator light that you can turn off in the software what you have is a very fundamental lack of understanding in the first place. There is no point in indicator lights at all if you are let them be controlled by software.

Second anyone who is using a cloud camera has automatically forfeit all right to his or her privacy, if you are this monumentally idiotic this insanely stupid to trust a random cloud provider with hundreds to thousands of hours of footage of your private home, you are so irresponsibly ignorant you should be arrested for it. Your children should sue you for the horrible privacy violation you committed on them and you should have to go to prison.


Uh, we're talking mainly about doorbell cameras, or using these cameras for security.


I've never seen a nest camera in the wild.

I do however have a little USB webcam with LEDs that cannot be disabled. I taped over them with black tape so as not to draw attention to the camera. The proper version of this would just be to like, desolder them or whatever.

Is there any reason this wouldn't work? Perhaps if the camera is forced to be displayed prominently like on a front door you'd see that it'd been obscured?


Probably depends on the camera board, but mechanically disabling the LED is either going to mysteriously disable the entire device, or be undetected, or the designer specifically accounted for that and something else happens.

As long as you’ve got your iron hot, you could replace the LED with a D(iode):

https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/111219/remov...


It should announce its presence on an interval too. What if someone camoflages the camera in some Christmas lights? What if you're blind?


No one would buy this.



> As part of that commitment, we explained that you will always see a clear visual indicator when your Nest cameras are on and sending video and audio to Nest.

Since the LED is now always on, this sounds like a euphemism for "you can't turn the camera off anymore"


Was there a catalyst for this change?

It's a bit annoying that the byproduct of always being connected is that companies can control a product you own...

I suppose you don't really own it if it's connected to a cloud service and that service is 90 percent of the functionality


If they were really concerned about privacy, they'd have a motorized cover for the camera.

(That has potential as a product. Especially for things like Amazon's inside-your-house door camera.)


Nothing a little piece of black electrical tape won't solve.


In over a year of Nest Outdoor Cam ownership, I can safely say that only one visitor has noticed our camera, despite its size, design and position. The lack of a lit LED idiot light has been instrumental in this and now Google have fcked it up. So it's black tape time, and fck you Google - stop making decisions on my behalf!


They should offer to buy back every camera or grandfather in existing cameras.


Couldn’t you just put a small piece of electrical tape over it?


Right, unless the CIA asks nicely


Black tape




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: