Google raises some privacy issues with Nest buy «

    Google raises some privacy issues with Nest buy

    SAN FRANCISCO (MarkeWatch) — Google Inc. already knows just about everywhere you go online, who you socialize with and controls how millions of people operate their Android-based smartphones. And now, the company is about to be able to reach into your home and keep track of how you like to set your thermostat.

    “I kind of think Google read ‘Big Brother’ and took it as a career goal.”

    Rob Enderle

    That’s the theory, to a degree, behind Google’s /quotes/zigman/93888/delayed/quotes/nls/goog GOOG +0.62% announcement late Monday, that it will acquire connected-device technology company Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. Nest is best-known for make smart thermostats and smoke alarms, and being co-founded by former Apple Inc. /quotes/zigman/68270/delayed/quotes/nls/aapl AAPL +0.11% executive Tony Faddell, who is credited as one of creators of the iPod.

    By incorporating Nest into its arsenal, Google could acquire more data on individuals and their use of energy in their homes. In a statement announcing the deal, Nest tried to calm concerns about Google using consumer information coming from Nest’s devices.

    “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,” Nest said in a statement on the company’s Web site .

    Robert Peck, who covers Google for SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, said Google’s acquisition will probably bring up the issue of privacy, “just because of the fact that Google owns Nest.”

    Nest Labs Peck said that a market of about 115 million households in the U.S. is why Google would pay more than $3 billion for a company that makes thermostats.

    “It lead to this whole topic of ubiquity that Google wants to be present in,” Peck said. “It wants to be present and connect all those devices and be wherever it can be.”

    Rob Enderle, president of technology researcher firm the Enderle Group, said it was only a matter of time before Google, or some other tech giant bought Nest, what with companies such as Apple and Microsoft Corp. /quotes/zigman/20493/delayed/quotes/nls/msft MSFT +0.09% continually working on new devices to expand their reach into consumers’ electronic lives, and living rooms.

    “I kind of think Google read ‘Big Brother’ and took it as a career goal,” Enderle said. “Long-term privacy concerns, given this is Google, would revolves around knowing when you are home and what you are doing there through the device sensors. Given Google’s hunger for information, future products would have far more sensors, cameras and other technologies that cold eventually create privacy concerns.”