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Google Steps Into a Hornet’s Nest of Privacy Concerns With Latest Acquisition



google_plus_nestGoogle announced yesterday that it plans to acquire Nest Labs for $3.2B in cash.

That’s a lot of Benjamins for a company that makes thermostats!

Except, they’re not your ordinary “how do I set this again” thermostat. Nope! Nest offers a smart, internet-connected thermostat. The type that knows when you’ve left the house, and even when you’re in the room! Did that just set off any alarm bells for anyone?

Google will own technology that will know  when you’re feeling too warm or if you’re feeling chilly. Google will know when you leave the house. Next step? You see an Adsense ad on your phone reminding you to pick up a new fleece sweater while you’re at the mall.

Perhaps.

Nest is, likely naively, claiming that Google will not get access to its data because of the company’s privacy policy:

Will Nest customer data be shared with Google?

Our privacy policy clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services. We’ve always taken privacy seriously and this will not change.

How cute!

At this point, Nest doesn’t even know if it will be around in 6 months–Google has a habit of buying companies for technology and then shutting them down–so I’m pretty sure they have no clue how Google will change its privacy policy in the coming months.

Personally, it wouldn’t bother me. I recently switched from an iPhone to Android and along with it, ended my 3+ year Google search hiatus. I discovered that letting Google get all up in my biz-natch was actually very useful. Still, many conspiracy theorists are likely already blowing the dust off their soapbox.

Some have suggested Google just wanted an excellent design team, while others, perhaps jokingly, speculate the search giant needs Nest to help manage the A/C in its massive data centers. $3.2B is a lot to pay, if those are the true motives. No, I suspect that Google does want inside your home and I’m looking forward to the ability to have Google Now program my thermostat for me! ;-)

  • Nest

    “Your Nest drops the temperature in the house 10 degrees and an ad appears: “You think it’s cold now? Try Orbits new Ice Cold Menthol® gum and send your mouth to the Arctic. >> DROP TEMPERATURE BY 2 MORE DEGREES TO RECEIVE PROMOTIONAL EMAIL”

    • http://www.trackur.com/ Andy Beal

      Graywolf, is that you? :-P