Nest Doorbell Cam is a Noisy IPv6 Client

I’ve been on an adventure, trying to catalogue and measure the bandwidth usage of the devices on my network by using IPFIX from a Mikrotik router and a collector based on nfacctd. I’m making good progress on the the project. More updates to come soon, as I’m now working on the UI bits for viewing the stats.

During this process, I have found out that my Nest Doorbell Camera is generating a new IPv6 address for itself at an alarming rate — more than 50 distinct IP addresses I’ve counted in a single day by matching to the MAC address of the device. This corresponds to around 102MB of total upload and download bandwidth used — an insane number of new IP addresses for something that isn’t very chatty.

Some research leads me to believe that the device is taking the idea of privacy a little too seriously by aggressively implementing RFC 4941. This is quite bizzare — the doorbell camera only connects to properly secured and locked-down endpoints that Google operates, and the home user’s apps connect to some other secure relay service in order to view the camera’s feed, so whose privacy are they trying to protect, and from whom?

Dear Google, please stop polluting network logs by generating a new IPv6 address too frequently, and more importantly, give users an option to disable this feature. Even RFC 4941 acknowledges that an entity that wishes to track an IPv6 user by IP address can simply track the prefix of the network, which provides the same level of granularity that can be had through IPv6.

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