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Roomba, The Spying Cleaning Robot

Roomba, The Spying Cleaning Robot

It might be hard to believe that a cleaning robot is spying on you, and it may sound more like an argument of a paranoid movie character than real life. Unfortunately, smart appliances are increasingly becoming another instrument to collect data and sell it in the market.

“The trend to have robots at home to make life easier is reaching all the planet, including the Philippines, but few know the risks of having a device that can record and transmit information about their owners” says private investigator in the Philippines Paul Hughes.

Data is the new oil business. The biggest modern companies, like Google or Facebook, base their business on trading data. Many others have come up with ideas on how to enter the market and it seems like the robots and smart appliance industry is not getting behind.

Recently, Roomba has revealed that the company’s plan is to start collecting data that can be sold to third parties like Amazon, Google or Apple. The CEO of Roomba explained that the plan is to draw a rich map of the homes. Ideally, the robotic vacuum could be synced with some of the sellers’ artificially intelligent assistants (like Alexa or Siri), who based on this data will recommend home goods.

Where to draw the line between comfort and privacy?

Yes, there is no question, we all love to have a machine do the house chores for us. Unfortunately, this does not come free of risks and privacy intromissions anymore. In the past, dishwashers would just be dishwashers and vacuums just vacuums. But today, these appliances are only excuses to get devices inside our homes to continue spying on us. For advertisers and big retailers, it is not enough anymore to track our digital life, to follow us and record our movements with our phones, but now they also want a way into our only “private” environment: home. Protecting your digital privacy has now turned into a more complicated situation with all of these devices.

Most companies who collect data will say it is no big deal. They say that the information they store is only intended to give advertisers an insight of the market trends or to help sellers find their target audience more efficiently. But the truth is we have no idea of the extents of what they are collecting. Many could not be disclosing what they really do with the information. Even if they were true about their intentions, no one can be one hundred percent sure that the information won’t land in the wrong hands if a hacker decided to attack them. Would you want criminals to have your full house plan and the details of what is inside?   Clearly, the smart answer to this question is no.

We have all seen how companies won’t stop with their plans of making more money just out of respect for privacy. Even children are at risk of being targeted by criminals with spying toys. Will Roomba be an exception? Apparently not!  Be careful about what you buy and bring into your home.

C. Wright
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