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[News] iRobot CEO says that it will not sell your data

iRobot Roomba 980 11

Last week, iRobot’s CEO Colin Angle, caused a bit of a stir when his comments to Reuters about planning for the smart home future may have been misinterpreted to selling robot vacuum cleaner Roomba’s mapping data of customers’ homes as opposed to sharing data. It also comes at a time where iRobot have sent me their latest Roomba 980 vacuum cleaner to test out! (Initial impressions have mostly been good!) 

Angle told Reuters that iRobot could “reach a deal to share its maps for free with customer consent to one or more of the Big Three in the next couple of years.” Angle also added that the company could “extract value from those agreements by connecting for free with as many companies as possible to make the device more useful in the home.” Now you can definitely see why many started getting worried, from these statements alone. But if it is truly anonymous data, and consent is given, is there actually a problem?

After the misinterpretation, iRobot CEO Colin Angle said the following:

“iRobot takes privacy and security of its customers very seriously. We will always ask your permission to even store map data. Right now, iRobot is building maps to enable the Roomba to efficiently and effectively clean your home. In the future, with your permission, this information will enable the smart home and the devices within it to work better. For example, in order for the lights to turn on when you walk into a room, the home must know what lights are in which rooms.”

It really comes down to data security and the possible misuse of personal information by all companies involved. How is personal data and anonymous data stored? Are they stored together when being transmitted to third-parties?

In my opinion, if iRobot only send completely anonymous data to other companies for the benefit of smartening up the home, and consent has been given by the Roomba owner, then I’d say let it go.

However, anonymous data may not be the case according to a buried clause 2 in iRobot’s privacy policy:

[We may share your personal information with] other parties in connection with any company transaction, such as a merger, sale of all or a portion of company assets or shares, reorganization, financing, change of control or acquisition of all or a portion of our business by another company or third party or in the event of bankruptcy or related or similar proceeding.

Many people have a habit of simply scrolling past legal documents including the Terms and Conditions and clicking ‘I accept’ straight away. These are the people that would most likely get caught out.

What are your thoughts on sharing Roomba mapping data to third parties?