Nest CEO: Privacy Changes Will Be Opt-In

Nest thermostat or HAL?

Nest CEO Tony Fadell has suggested that any future alterations to his company’s privacy policy will be opt-in.

“If there were ever any changes whatsoever, we would be sure to be transparent about it, number one, and number two for you to opt-in to it,” he reportedly told the audience during a talk at the DLD Conference in Munich, according to The Next Web.

Google acquired Nest, which builds ultra-sleek and connected home appliances, last week for $3.2 billion in cash. Over the course of the talk, Fadell noted that discussions with Google about a possible buyout extended over years, and that his growing relationship with Google CEO Larry Page and other executives became almost symbiotic: “All I can say is we were finishing each other’s sentences and the visions that we had were just so large and so great, and they weren’t scared by them.”

Google intends for Nest to operate as an independently branded subsidiary, although its plans beyond that point remain publicly vague. Certainly Google is interested in the “connected home” market, which various tech giants have spent several years attempting to crack. If Google could leverage its considerable resources to place a growing portfolio of Nest products in millions of consumers’ homes, it could grow to dominate that nascent market.

But considering Nest’s tiny size and limited portfolio (its flagship product at the moment is the $190 Nest Protect, a CO2 detector that looks like an iDevice and features an embedded system-on-a-chip capable of connecting to other devices via wireless), distribution on that scale could prove a tough job, especially if privacy concerns develop over how Google uses any information about homes and customers captured by Nest device-sensors. Even before Fadell spoke, Nest had moved (in its updated FAQ) to assure purchasers that Google wouldn’t immediately begin vacuuming up device data and applying it to other, larger projects: “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.”

Privacy policies, however, have a tendency to change according to corporate needs.


Image: Nest