iRobot CEO Clarifies Indoor Mapping Comment, Says Company 'Will Never Sell Your Data'

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iRobot has responded to an article posted earlier this week by Reuters, in which it was said that company CEO Colin Angle "could reach a deal to sell its maps to one or more of the Big Three in the next couple of years," representing Apple, Amazon, and Google. Angle said that such shared data could bolster the intelligence of other smart home devices like light bulbs, thermostats, and security cameras.

Many users became fearful of such personal home data flowing freely between multiple companies, and in response today Angle and an iRobot PR representative have confirmed that "iRobot will never sell your data." In a letter sent to ZDNet, Angle said that information gathered by its Roomba vacuums "needs to be controlled by the customer and not as a data asset of a corporation to exploit."

iRobot CEO Colin Angle, Image via Reuters


He went on to say that's how the company operates currently, and how it will continue to operate in the future.
First things first, iRobot will never sell your data. Our mission is to help you keep a cleaner home and, in time, to help the smart home and the devices in it work better.

Information that is shared needs to be controlled by the customer and not as a data asset of a corporation to exploit. That is how data is handled by iRobot today. Customers have control over sharing it. I want to make very clear that this is how data will be handled in the future.

You may also want your robot to work with other connected devices in your home. For this to work, we will also require your permission, and we will always ensure secure means of communication between devices.
Additionally, ZDNet was able to further delve into Angle's original comments on the subject, asking what might have happened to spark an outbreak of privacy fear from the first article. When questioned whether the Reuters report was a "misinterpretation" on the subject of user data being sold to other companies, or a misstatement on Angle's part, iRobot responded by confirming that it was in fact a misinterpretation.
ZDNet: The Reuters report indicated how iRobot was in talks to sell the data. Can you respond with whether that was a misinterpretation by the reporter or a misstatement on the part of Colin? Was there, in fact, never any monetary negotiations or discussions over data?

iRobot: This was a misinterpretation. Colin never said that iRobot would look to sell customer maps or data to other companies. iRobot has not had any conversations with other companies about data transactions, and iRobot will not sell customer data.
The company went on to elaborate upon where exactly Roomba's mapping and navigation information is stored, confirming that all data for the Roomba 900 Series "stays on the robot." Usage data for Wi-Fi-enabled Roombas does get sent to the cloud to populate data logs on the connected smartphone app, but "images used for navigation are NOT sent to the cloud."

The company also pointed out that its Roomba vacuums lack any sort of traditional camera systems, so images that they see don't divulge much in the way of detailed personal information in the first place.

iRobot further iterated on the consent required for mapping data to be made available on the mobile app, saying that only if a user agrees can they see such a map of their homes created during the Roomba's cleaning schedule. If it is allowed, the data is sent to the cloud, processed and simplified so users can parse the data easily, but never sent anywhere else.

Article Link: iRobot CEO Clarifies Indoor Mapping Comment, Says Company 'Will Never Sell Your Data'
 

AngerDanger

macrumors 601
Dec 9, 2008
4,890
23,491
From the original Reuters article:
[Colin] Angle said iRobot would not sell data without its customers' permission, but he expressed confidence most would give their consent in order to access the smart home functions.
From this article:
Colin never said that iRobot would look to sell customer maps or data to other companies. iRobot has not had any conversations with other companies about data transactions, and iRobot will not sell customer data.
It's hard to say without a direct quote, but it seems like there's a pretty wide gulf between what must've actually been said and Reuters's "misinterpretation." It makes one wonder what exactly could've been misinterpreted.

"We won't sell data without permission."

"Oh, so you won't sell data without permission?"

"No, no, you're misinterpreting me. We'll never sell data."
 
Last edited:

nwcs

macrumors 68000
Sep 21, 2009
1,898
2,479
Tennessee
Always a misinterpretation or taken out of context when they reveal their hand. It'll happen and probably already happens under the theory of "anonymized" data.
 

Zxxv

macrumors 68040
Nov 13, 2011
3,558
1,103
UK
We will NEVER sell your data. UNTIL we sell the company. Then YOUR data is sold along with the company as its a nice way to raise the value of the company.
 

nt5672

macrumors 68020
Jun 30, 2007
2,087
4,507
Ops, got caught. How do I know, because the answer would have been something like, "Reuters was wrong we never said that" if Roomba were not looking to sell the data. But they could not say that because Reuters would have taken them to the cleaners.
 

EdT

macrumors 68000
Mar 11, 2007
1,731
1,472
Omaha, NE
"We won't sell your data".


At least not right now. When it's worth more to other businesses then we'll see.
 

CrystalQuest76

Suspended
Dec 14, 2015
640
717
West Cost A Lot
As a fan of sci-fi i think the concept of a robot that is always moving around the house vacuuming is cool. I also think that its a useful device for individuals that are disabled.
But come on, vacuuming is really not that hard or take up much effort. Lets stop looking for devices that allow us to be fat lazy individuals that don't get up and move around.
 
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pedzsan

macrumors regular
May 22, 2016
151
44
Leander, TX



iRobot has responded to an article posted earlier this week by Reuters, in which it was said that company CEO Colin Angle "could reach a deal to sell its maps to one or more of the Big Three in the next couple of years," representing Apple, Amazon, and Google. Angle said that such shared data could bolster the intelligence of other smart home devices like light bulbs, thermostats, and security cameras.

Many users became fearful of such personal home data flowing freely between multiple companies, and in response today Angle and an iRobot PR representative have confirmed that "iRobot will never sell your data." In a letter sent to ZDNet, Angle said that information gathered by its Roomba vacuums "needs to be controlled by the customer and not as a data asset of a corporation to exploit."


iRobot CEO Colin Angle, Image via Reuters


He went on to say that's how the company operates currently, and how it will continue to operate in the future.
Additionally, ZDNet was able to further delve into Angle's original comments on the subject, asking what might have happened to spark an outbreak of privacy fear from the first article. When questioned whether the Reuters report was a "misinterpretation" on the subject of user data being sold to other companies, or a misstatement on Angle's part, iRobot responded by confirming that it was in fact a misinterpretation.
The company went on to elaborate upon where exactly Roomba's mapping and navigation information is stored, confirming that all data for the Roomba 900 Series "stays on the robot." Usage data for Wi-Fi-enabled Roombas does get sent to the cloud to populate data logs on the connected smartphone app, but "images used for navigation are NOT sent to the cloud."

The company also pointed out that its Roomba vacuums lack any sort of traditional camera systems, so images that they see don't divulge much in the way of detailed personal information in the first place.

iRobot further iterated on the consent required for mapping data to be made available on the mobile app, saying that only if a user agrees can they see such a map of their homes created during the Roomba's cleaning schedule. If it is allowed, the data is sent to the cloud, processed and simplified so users can parse the data easily, but never sent anywhere else.

Article Link: iRobot CEO Clarifies Indoor Mapping Comment, Says Company 'Will Never Sell Your Data'
[doublepost=1501263591][/doublepost]They (iRobot) could give some teeth to this promise by committing in an irrevocable legal document sent to each customer that they will pay the customer $1M each if the data ever escapes out of their hands.
 

rictus007

macrumors regular
Oct 12, 2011
243
418
“Never”
[doublepost=1501267507][/doublepost]
As a fan of sci-fi i think the concept of a robot that is always moving around the house vacuuming is cool. I also think that its a useful device for individuals that are disabled.
But come on, vacuuming is really not that hard or take up much effort. Lets stop looking for devices that allow us to be fat lazy individuals that don't get up and move around.
You can go to the gym while the robot vacuum your house.... for those who think that looking fat and lazy is a problem
 

antonis

macrumors 68020
Jun 10, 2011
2,085
1,008
So many companies that 'will never sell your data', but not committed to any penalty if/when they do.
 

alexgowers

macrumors 65816
Jun 3, 2012
1,336
890
I hate that all these companies storing sensitive data about your home, life and more. Yet there seems to be ZERO consequences for selling or loosing or leaking that data to a 3rdparty!

I think the law needs to change whereby you are due compensation or at the very least fines are leveed against companies that get hacked or sell data. Though I'm aware as soon as you have fines in place it legitimises the selling of data rather than discourages it.

While many, including myself are happy to share their data within reason, there should be an opt in to allow companies to hold and store data and another opt in to allow them sell it on.
 
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You are the One

macrumors 6502a
Dec 25, 2014
594
751
In the present
We never "sell" customer information. We protect our customers information at all times.

We do have a partner program where "exchange" customer information with our "partners" to "improve" the product. But that is not "selling", although we get handsomely paid for it.
 

ceriess

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2003
82
71



iRobot has responded to an article posted earlier this week by Reuters, in which it was said that company CEO Colin Angle "could reach a deal to sell its maps to one or more of the Big Three in the next couple of years," representing Apple, Amazon, and Google. Angle said that such shared data could bolster the intelligence of other smart home devices like light bulbs, thermostats, and security cameras.

Many users became fearful of such personal home data flowing freely between multiple companies, and in response today Angle and an iRobot PR representative have confirmed that "iRobot will never sell your data." In a letter sent to ZDNet, Angle said that information gathered by its Roomba vacuums "needs to be controlled by the customer and not as a data asset of a corporation to exploit."


iRobot CEO Colin Angle, Image via Reuters


He went on to say that's how the company operates currently, and how it will continue to operate in the future.
Additionally, ZDNet was able to further delve into Angle's original comments on the subject, asking what might have happened to spark an outbreak of privacy fear from the first article. When questioned whether the Reuters report was a "misinterpretation" on the subject of user data being sold to other companies, or a misstatement on Angle's part, iRobot responded by confirming that it was in fact a misinterpretation.
The company went on to elaborate upon where exactly Roomba's mapping and navigation information is stored, confirming that all data for the Roomba 900 Series "stays on the robot." Usage data for Wi-Fi-enabled Roombas does get sent to the cloud to populate data logs on the connected smartphone app, but "images used for navigation are NOT sent to the cloud."

The company also pointed out that its Roomba vacuums lack any sort of traditional camera systems, so images that they see don't divulge much in the way of detailed personal information in the first place.

iRobot further iterated on the consent required for mapping data to be made available on the mobile app, saying that only if a user agrees can they see such a map of their homes created during the Roomba's cleaning schedule. If it is allowed, the data is sent to the cloud, processed and simplified so users can parse the data easily, but never sent anywhere else.

Article Link: iRobot CEO Clarifies Indoor Mapping Comment, Says Company 'Will Never Sell Your Data'
[doublepost=1501338115][/doublepost]I recommend taking their little spy out back and smashing it with a shovel.
[doublepost=1501338442][/doublepost]
Was looking to buy this product in the next two months when I move. Not anymore. Any other suggestions ?
Buy a Dyson Animal vacuum. It has a REALLY good 5 year warranty. I have one and recently had a small connector clip go on it, and I brought it into a service center for repair. They also cleaned and replaced a whole bunch of other stuff on it while it was there. No charge. It really is a good vacuum.
 
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Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
4,976
2,292
New Jersey Pine Barrens
My home is only around 1000 square feet. I sweep once a week and it takes about 15 minutes using a cheap little vacuum cleaner I bought more than 10 years ago. I hope I never become too lazy to do that myself. If you let little robots run around and map your house, you had better be prepared for the consequences. Regardless of the company policy, if the data is on their servers then it's at risk.

How much of a risk is this? Don't know, it's probably pretty minor in the scheme of things. I would be much more worried if I had a stranger from a cleaning service in my house every week. ;)
 

DynaFXD

macrumors 6502a
Jun 15, 2010
798
366
East Coast
“Never”
[doublepost=1501267507][/doublepost]
You can go to the gym while the robot vacuum your house.... for those who think that looking fat and lazy is a problem
Yes, because managing activities and keeping a neat abode has been the sticking point of modern civilization. Seriously, I am constantly amazed by the dissonance between seemingly labor saving devices and the effort needed to make space for, maintain, and haul around said devices. Vendors have done a great job of convincing people that micro-managing their existence (smart home, real time security systems, wifi-freaking-refrigerators) or obtaining yet another albatross-around-your-neck-possession that is marginally effective at their tasks but '.....oooohhhh...it has the technology' is actually a good use of their time and money. Just who on earth would think that getting a device that can map out their home which then uploads those maps to some unknown destination for some spurious use is actually a 'good thing'? Probably the same people that thinks "You know what would be a good idea? Let's fill our home with wifi enabled security cameras that broadcast our information across the open 'net and let's also add a live open mic that sits in the middle of the room and can literally hear every word we speak. What could possibly go wrong with that?"
Sorry for the rant, maybe I finally have reached the "get off my lawn" years. But I had no idea this thing was actually mapping houses and sending the data up. I just thought it had some self learning AI. Just because technology can do something doesn't mean that we should embrace it. Sheesh.
 
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