Update | Xiaomi Mijia connected to Nest Hub seemingly streams footage from random peoples' houses to other Nest users
Update: Xiaomi contacted us to share an official statement after this piece was published. This is what they have to say:
“Xiaomi has always prioritized our users' privacy and information security. We are aware there was an issue of receiving stills while connecting Mi Home Security Camera Basic 1080p on Google Home hub. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused to our users.
Our team has since acted immediately to solve the issue and it is now fixed. Upon investigation, we have found out the issue was caused by a cache update on December 26, 2019, which was designed to improve camera streaming quality. This has only happened in extremely rare conditions. In this case, it happened during the integration between Mi Home Security Camera Basic 1080p and the Google Home Hub with a display screen under poor network conditions.
We have also found 1044 users were with such integrations and only a few with extremely poor network conditions might be affected. This issue will not happen if the camera is linked to the Xiaomi’s Mi Home app.
Xiaomi has communicated and fixed this issue with Google, and has also suspended this service until the root cause has been completely solved, to ensure that such issues will not happen again.”
With the internet of things become ever more ubiquitous, platforms like Google Nest Hub give people new ways to interact with the objects around them. While home automation can make life more convenient, security concerns just won't go away.
A Redditor recently encountered a particularly disturbing situation. User Dio-V reported that, after connecting his Xiaomi Mijia security camera to Google Nest Hub, the Mijia's security feed started showing footage from random peoples' houses. The security feed showed eerie black and white still images of random homes. The images include those of a sleeping baby and a man sleeping on a chair. The Redditor believes these images are likely from a different time-zone.
Google was quick to respond. Speaking to Android Police, a Google spokesperson said the following: "We're aware of the issue and are in contact with Xiaomi to work on a fix. In the meantime, we're disabling Xiaomi integrations on our devices."
This is not the first time that smart home hubs have come under the scanner for the wrong reasons. Amazon's Echo apparently records private conversations that Amazon staff then analyze. The Mijia incident is especially problematic in light of reports about Chinese government surveillance.