How To Ensure Privacy From Your Smart Devices
I'll tell ya up front, I'm not a big smart home device kinda guy. It seems everywhere you turn now there is another device from Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple that are all engineered to listen for your commands and respond to them.
I know people say they only start recording when you say your "wake" word... like "OK, Google" or "Hey, Siri." But, make no mistake, these devices are always listening and If that makes you uneasy like it does me, know that there's a simple fix to stop your smart-home companion from listening in on you all the time. Ready, I know this is going to be earth shattering....Turn off the microphones on the devices when you are not using them or when you don't want them eavesdropping.
It took me a little research, but I am pleased to say I found all the information I needed to pass on to you to turn off the microphones for a few of the more popular products on the market.
First lets look at Amazon devices like, Echo, or the Dot. These are all being controlled by Alexa, and thankfully, are equipped with a microphone off button that you can turn off and on. When the button is pressed, the power to the microphones is disconnected and a red light is illuminated. Easy peasy.
Next, on to Google...for Google Home, simply press the microphone mute button on the back of the device to mute and unmute. On the Google Nest Mini and the Google Home Mini, slide the switch next to the power cord. The switch will display orange when the microphone is turned off. On the Google Home Max, slide the switch on the back of the device. The switch will display orange when the microphone is turned off. That covers the two majors brands you find around most.
If you have a Facebook portal, there is a two prong approach here since you also have a camera to deal with. So, to turn off the camera or microphone on Portal and Portal Mini, slide the switch on top of the Portal all the way to the left. A red light will alert you that the microphone and camera are off. On Portal+ and Portal, press the circle button on top of your device. A red light on the front of your Portal will tell you when the microphone and camera are turned off.
Privacy is nice....get some!