Your Roomba May Be Up to No Good

iRobot is considering selling consumer info to Amazon, Apple, or Google
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2017 9:30 AM CDT
Why Your Roomba May Soon Be a 'Creepy Little Spy'
The Roomba vacuum cleaner by iRobot Corp. is seen in Boston in this Aug. 21, 2007, file photo.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, file)

It may be "smart" to put robots to work in your home—but is it wise? Consumers who want the blueprint and contents of their homes kept private may be wary at news coming out of iRobot, which makes the Roomba robotic vacuum. Per the New York Times, the company is mulling selling data that the Roomba picks up along with dirt during its daily cleanup sessions—everything from the layout of one's home and brands of furniture, to a resident's daily traffic patterns and income (based on those brands), to whether there's a baby in the house—to Amazon, Google, or Apple. Digital rights experts note this data on consumers and their residences can be used by marketers to bombard said consumers with targeted ads. "Your friendly little Roomba could soon become a creepy little spy," tweeted Canadian nonprofit OpenMedia.

Reuters notes the Roomba is just part and parcel of the 21st-century "smart home," which is already being stocked with internet-linked security systems, lights, and temperature controllers. In its statement to the Times, iRobot insists consumer privacy is paramount, noting customers can flick a switch and "opt out" of their map data being uploaded, or not connect their Roomba to the internet at all. "No data will be shared with third parties without the informed consent of our customers," the statement reads. iRobot also says it doesn't have any imminent plans for data-hawking, but company CEO Colin Angle tells Reuters that a contract to sell Roomba's maps to either Apple, Amazon, or Google could happen within the next couple of years. Amazon offered a "no comment"; the other two never got back to Reuters. (This Roomba caused a "pooptastrophe.")

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