Smart speakers are only meant to listen when you want them to, which is why they have wake-up words and phrases. But that's not the case for Google's Home Mini speaker. Some of them have been listening to everything, recording it all, and transmitting the audio back to Google's servers. The good news is, Google isn't being purposefully evil.
As The Verge reports, the reason the Home Mini speakers record all sounds is due to a fault with the touch sensor on the top of the device. Google issued a software patch to stop the constant recording happening, and the company must be somewhat relieved it can be fixed remotely with a software update rather than a recall.
The fault was discovered by Artem Russakovskii from Android Police. His report of the "near-constant" listening and recording prompted a quick response from Google. Apparently the touch sensor fault is limited to Home Mini speakers given out at Made by Google events.
It's estimated there's at least 4,000 affected devices. So if you own a Home Mini and it wasn't acquired from such an event, you don't need to worry. The fault won't impact the Google Home Max of course as it isn't launching until December.
As an added precaution and way of Google demonstrating they take privacy "very seriously," all activity and queries created by long pressing the touch sensor on Home Mini speakers between October 4-7 has been wiped and will no longer show up on owner's My Activity Page. Further information for those affected can be found on the Google Support page for the issue. It advises that if you apply the software update and still experience a problem Google will send out a replacement Home Mini to you.