After random surveillance images started to show up on users' devices, Google blocked Xiaomi from running Assistant or Google Home

Last week, a redditor posted that "When I load the Xiaomi camera in my Google home hub I get stills from other people's homes!!" The post included video of the user's tablet showing stills of strangers in their homes, including some of strangers asleep in their bedrooms.

A few days later, a googler commented in the thread to say that Google was aware of the problem and had blocked all Xiaomi products from accessing Google Home or Google Assistant.

Xiaomi has since issued a statement saying that they had "has always prioritized our users' privacy and information security," and that a Dec 26 update had caused the problem, but only for users with "poor network conditions" (the bug came from a cacheing system). The company says the bug affected 1044 users, and that it has been resolved, but that Xiaomi devices will not get back their Google Assistant and Google Home tools until "the root cause has been completely solved, to ensure that such issues will not happen again."

Some analysts have suggested that adversarial interoperability — where companies don't get to stop competitors from connecting to their systems — cannot be reconciled with privacy concerns, because companies need to be able to control their systems to protect our privacy. But in this story — as in so many others — we see that allowing big companies like Google to decide who can plug into their systems and under what circumstances is no guarantee that they'll only choose wisely. Google and its competitors are completely capable of thoroughly vetting a partner and greenlighting its integration, even when that partner cannot be trusted.