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Google's purchase of Nest raises privacy concerns

By Angela Atkinson     Feb 3, 2014 in Technology
Google's recent acquisition of Nest Labs for $3.2 billion is raising privacy concerns among security experts and the tech industry. The automation company makes smoke detectors, thermostats, and smart devices that connect to the Internet.
Privacy advocates are worried that Google's prying eyes will soon extend to people's living rooms and offices, and that in the future sensitive information may be sent to federal agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA).
Every Web-enabled device would be viewed as a data collection point which gathers sensitive information on Nest's (Google's) customers.
Monitoring Users at Home
Todd Morris, CEO of security firm Brickhouse Security, recently told Fox Business that
people should be worried about invasiveness when it comes to such devices.
"Whatever [Nest's] privacy policy was, it was not designed to be the privacy policy of the future because when they get acquired, the data goes with them," said Morris.
He added: "There’s a saying. If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product."
"They sell this [information] to advertisers. So if advertisers know what you eat, when you watch TV, what you watch [on] TV, what you smoke, all of these things tell them what they can try to sell you and what you’re going to buy," said technology analyst Rob Enderle.
Big Data and Collection Points
A big worry stems from multiple home or office devices that are used to collect sensitive information on people's behavior seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Such information could be continuously sent to Google -- a company that has virtually unlimited resources for analyzing and utilizing big data.
With the revelations on NSA snooping and security breach involving Target (which affected up to 70 million customers), we’re beginning to understand that security in the world of big data should not be taken lightly. Also, there are plenty of genius hackers who love to crack firewalls.
For years, technology insiders believed that the future of big data resided in analysis. However, that future may well rest in privacy protection, data security, ethical practices, and old-fashioned trust.
More about Google, Nest, Privacy concerns, Internet, Tech