Nest defends web CCTV Cam amid unstoppable 24/7 surveillance fears

The truth about camera that seemingly keeps recording even when powered off


Alphabet-owned Nest says there is no truth to the allegation that its internet-connected home CCTV cameras continue to record video even when switched off.

This assertion comes after a report from ABI Research found that the Nest Cam keeps drawing a healthy amount of current even when told to turn off, suggesting it's still observing.

According to the ABI Teardown report, the Nest Cam draws 343mA while off, and up to 370mA or 418mA while on, depending on the resolution of the video being streamed to the cloud.

ABI vice president of teardowns Jim Mielke said that while most surveillance cameras would be expected to drop power consumption when moved to their off state, the Nest camera continues to suck juice.

This, as a result, suggests that the webcam does not actually power down and continues to observe what is going on in the room.

"In this case, the current drain only changed slightly when given the turn off command, reducing from 370mA to 340mA. Typically a shutdown or standby mode would reduce current by as much as 10 to 100 times," Mielke said.

"This means that even when a consumer thinks that he or she is successfully turning off this camera, the device is still running, which could potentially unleash a tidal wave of privacy concerns."

Nest denies its hardware is always watching, saying that its home surveillance camera does in fact stop recording when it is powered off. Rather, the Google stablemate claims, the gizmo has to keep pulling current so it can wake up and record video at a moment's notice when asked to, rather than waste time powering up from cold and reconnecting to the internet. Apparently.

"When Nest Cam is turned off from the user interface, it does not fully power down, as we expect the camera to be turned on again at any point in time," a Nest spokesperson told El Reg.

"With that said, when Nest Cam is turned off, it completely stops transmitting video to the cloud, meaning it no longer observes its surroundings."

It seems that rather than being a privacy menace that ogles you even when powered down, the Nest Cam is simply an energy hog that sucks up electricity even when you don't need it. Now then, anyone want to monitor the network activity of a Nest Cam when powered off? ®

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