Your Roomba and some of your other home appliances collect a heap of personal data. Secure the privacy of your home with these expert tips.
Imagine this: you arrive home in the middle of the day, quite unexpected, and find your cleaning lady — whom you hired to take care of things while you’re at work — taking pictures of your bedroom. “What are you doing?” you may very reasonably ask.
“Oh, this? I’ve decided to send the details of your home to some big stores downtown” she says, as she snaps a picture of your bed with her phone and emails it off.
What would you do? Fire her on the spot? Demand an explanation? Or would you just shrug your shoulders and hand her the WiFi password?
How you answered that question could reflect your level of concern over the news that iRobot — makers of the home cleaning robot superhit Roomba — is working on a deal with big retailers to share the “rich map of the home” of their users with the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
The announcement was followed by the sort of whirlwind public mess marketing execs have nightmares about: media frenzy; public outrage; corrections (iRobot will not sell your floor plan to retailers, but instead share it with them for free — phew, that’s a relief); and further clarifications (iRobot’s CEO went public to state they will always ask for a user's consent before sharing details of their home with anyone — another huge relief, since you never click on things you haven’t carefully read and ran by a lawyer. Never).
If you’ve been giving your home cleaning robot the suspicious side-eye, or if you were thinking of buying one and have put your plans on hold, you’ll want to know exactly what kind of potential home espionage you’re dealing with.
Your bot is doing more than vacuuming your home — it’s scanning it.
I know i'm not doing myself any favors as a tech writer here, but personally, I am still amazed that there even is a robot that can clean up my home (and doesn’t plummet down the stairs to boot).
And I know I’m not alone. So many of us are so happy at the thought of not having to ever vacuum again, that we haven’t really given any thought to the cost we may pay in return, beyond that initial purchase fee. Until now.
Now, all we can think of are things like:
OK, so you’ve been thinking of the place where privacy, security and convenience meet and clash, and you’ve found out that place is your vacuum cleaner. Now what?
There are several things you can do to keep yourself and your personal data protected. Try these on:
Here are 4 tips to protect your data from being shared on Facebook.
A vulnerability and a victory for data protection authorities are a good reminder about what can happen when data isn’t kept safe.