Update, January 17, 2020 (12:05 PM ET): Yesterday, a Xiaomi spokesperson reached out to 9to5Google to confirm it has fully resolved its recent Mi security camera bug that allowed a user to view security footage from another person’s device. The bug itself was patched the day after it was reported, but now Google Assistant and Nest integration should also function as expected on Xiaomi’s security cameras.
“At Xiaomi, we take user privacy and information security as top priority,” the spokesperson told 9to5Google. “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused for affected users. We will take even stronger measures to prevent such incidents in the future.”
Original Story, January 2, 2020 (01:41 PM ET): Those of us with smart home security cameras and smart displays know the usual routine: you say “Hey Google, show me my porch camera” to your Google Nest Hub and then voila: the video feed appears.
However, a Reddit user who owns a Google Nest Hub and some Xiaomi Mijia connected security cams saw an unexpected result when performing this action. Instead of seeing the camera feed they expected, they saw incredibly creepy feeds from other people’s homes. Some of the feeds even had people in them, including a sleeping man and an infant.
To make things even creepier, the unexpected feeds all appear in black and white with bizarre scan lines and other distortions. It’s like they were taken straight out of a found footage horror film. Check out some examples from the Reddit thread related to the problem:
Now, it’s completely possible that the Reddit user who uploaded these images is taking us for a ride. It wouldn’t be too difficult to fake the images and videos we’ve seen related to this problem. However, the fact that there isn’t really being any benefit in doing so — in combination with the rash of security camera and smart home privacy issues we’ve seen recently — inclines us to believe that these are legit.
If that’s all the case, though, then what is exactly happening here? We reached out to Xiaomi and Google to see if there are any possible explanations. Xiaomi has yet to respond, but a Google spokesperson got back to us pretty quickly with this statement:
We’re aware of the issue and are in contact with Xiaomi to work on a fix. In the meantime, we’re disabling Xiaomi integrations on our devices.
That’s not a tacit admission that what this Reddit user sees on their Google Nest Hub is a real problem or Xiaomi’s fault, but Google likely wouldn’t disable Xiaomi support if it didn’t have some sort of evidence to suggest it’s possible.
We will keep you updated should any new information on this come to light.