The Roomba 900 Series offers a Clean Map Report, which maps your home as it vacuums, improving its movement and telling you how well it cleaned. But to get that map, according to customer service reps, you have to share it with Roomba’s creator iRobot. And that gives iRobot permission to give — or sell — your map. Which is exactly what iRobot CEO Colin Angle plans to do, as he told Reuters this week.
Photo by iRobot
Angle told Reuters that iRobot, which made Roomba compatible with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in March, could reach a deal to sell its maps to one or more of the Big Three in the next couple of years.
The “Big Three” are Amazon, Apple, or Google, all of which desperately want more customer data and all of which make millions of dollars from targeted advertising.
Image via iRobot
So according to Angle, iRobot will ask permission before sharing your info with another party. Of course, if you ever opted into Clean Map Reports, you technically already gave iRobot that permission. It’s just another of the many ways consumers are unknowingly giving up their privacy.
Image by iRobot
For the time being, you can opt out of Clean Map Reports from your iRobot HOME App, under More > Settings > Toggle Clean Map Report.
iRobot customer service isn’t all on the same page about this news. While an online customer service rep directed me to the Twitter account and Angle’s statement, a phone rep confidently informed me that iRobot would not sell data. When I read him Angle’s statement, he was caught off guard.
If you already let your Roomba deliver a Clean Map Report to iRobot, it’s unclear whether there’s any way to retroactively revoke permission to sell that report. I reached out to iRobot for clarification and the company responded with this statement:
To clarify, iRobot has not formed any plans to sell data. iRobot is committed to the absolute privacy of our customer-related data, including data collected by our connected products. No data is sold to third-parties. No data will be shared with third-parties without the informed consent of our customers. If a customer had already signed up/opted in, iRobot will delete the data from our servers if a customer requests it. This is retroactive.
Clean Map Reports are not shared with third parties. If a Roomba owner does not want to share data with a third party such as Amazon (for example, to enable voice control from Amazon Alexa), the owner can simply disable the skill in the Amazon Alexa app.