iRobot Roombas

iRobot Roombas

iRobot
Wi-Fi

Review date: Nov. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Not creepy

Let’s face it, vacuuming sucks. Throw in some pets or kids and this Sisyphean task can drain your soul. Well, hello Roomba! This robot vacuum does the work for you. These robot vacuums map your house, can tell the kitchen from the dinner room, and will vacuum with a "Hey Google, clean up under the table" voice command. A truly wonderful invention. And if you've been scarred by watching those videos where they smear poop all over the floor, you're worries are (hopefully) over. Roombas are learning how to avoid dog poo. Technological advances are a truly a wonder.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

A few years back iRobot got into a bit of hot water because it appeared they were mapping users' homes with their Roomba robot vacuum cleaners with potential plans to sell that data. Since then, iRobot has stepped up and made it a point to show they don't sell users' personal data about their lives or homes. This is very good. And you can choose to not have map data transmitted to iRobot at all. Yay!.

We appreciate iRobot states in their privacy policy that no data is sold to third-parties and no data will be shared with third-parties without the customer's knowledge or control. They also say they do not share personal data with third parties for commercial or marketing purposes.

Now it seems the biggest thing you have to worry about with your Roomba is it rolling through dog poo on the floor and creating a huge mess. Oh, wait! The new J series Roombas come with what they call P.O.O.P. (Pet Owner Official Promise). According to the company, the P.O.O.P promise means certain robot vacuums “will steer clear of your pet’s waste as it gets down to its own business. If it doesn’t, we'll replace your robot for free. (for one year)). Roomba accomplishes this poop detection with a camera and artificial intelligence. Does this raise some privacy concerns? Yes. We also like all the measures Roomba takes to protect users like only recognizing a few objects (including poo) and shutting the camera off if it detects a human. Still, if the device were hacked, it’s possible those privacy protections could be circumvented.

What’s the worst that could happen? Well, if your Roomba were hacked, we suppose it could become a mobile camera loose in your house. This probably isn’t likely and you’re probably pretty safe having a Roomba clean up your messes...while avoiding your pet’s messes. Let’s hear it for no more pooptastrophies (their word, not mine)!

Tips to protect yourself

  • Use two-factor authentication
  • Limit your robot vacuum's data sharing
  • Use strong passwords
  • Keep your robot vacuum's firmware updated
  • If you want data that’s been shared in the past removed from iRobot’s cloud servers, you can contact the company's customer service department to make the removal request.
mobile Privacy Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: Yes

App: No

Microphone

Device: No

App: No

Tracks location

Device: No

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

iRobot does not share personal data with third parties for commercial or marketing purposes. iRobot does not sell personal data.

iRobot permits third parties to develop apps and tools that interact with their Robots and Service, including, for example, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. If you choose to integrate a third-party app or service with Robots or iRobot Service, they will permit the third party to collect information from your Robot and App necessary to power the integration. Please note that iRobot does not control the data collection and use practices of these third parties. You should carefully review the third-party privacy policy and other documents before connecting your Robot or the Apps to the third-party service.

How can you control your data?

You can choose not to have map data transmitted to iRobot.

Personal data is deleted within 30 days of a customer's request. Usage data is stored in a deidentified database (completely separated from identifiable customer information), and is rendered fully anonymized upon customer account deletion, as all personal data is deleted during that process. For the j7/j7+, a customer can request that the images they've shared with iRobot be deleted. iRobot never has access to images the customer has chosen not share, and those are automatically deleted in 30 days.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Average

No known incidents in the last 3 years.

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

iRobot has several privacy pages explaining its approach to privacy in simple language. It has Roomba-specific FAQs and information available.

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Data is encrypted in transit and at rest. The Roomba communicates with the iRobot cloud service using encryption. Robot information is stored separately from any customer information to de-identify the robot and its associated data from its owner.

Strong password

Yes

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

iRobot runs a private bug bounty program, which means that anyone who finds a security issue and discloses it responsibly may get paid. They also hold hacking events to collaborate with the broad security research community.

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

Scholarly articles are available about the machine learning used to help Roombas navigate a room and to make recommended cleaning schedules.

Is this AI untrustworthy?

No

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

iRobot uses AI and machine learning to help certain iRobot Roomba robot vacuums and Braava jet robot mops with Smart Mapping capabilities to map and navigate a home.

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Yes

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Can’t Determine


News

Robot vacuums are learning to avoid dog poop. But that’s not all they can see.
The Washington Post
Advanced cameras and artificial intelligence allow robot vacuums to move deftly around your home — new features that concern privacy experts
Is Your Robotic Vacuum Sharing Data About You?
Consumer Reports
CR tests models from iRobot, LG, Samsung, Shark, and others to see whether these robovacs keep your data secure and private
Your Roomba May Be Mapping Your Home, Collecting Data That Could Be Shared
New York Times
High-end models of Roomba, iRobot’s robotic vacuum, collect data as they clean, identifying the locations of your walls and furniture. This helps them avoid crashing into your couch, but it also creates a map of your home that iRobot could share with Amazon, Apple or Google.
Is my robot vac spying on me? Data privacy, explained
Reviewed
If 63% of consumers are creeped out by smart devices, then the one that you allow to roam about and map your house, connect to the Internet, and stream video could be the creepiest creeper of them all.
Here's what your iRobot knows about you
Avast
In addition to learning how to keep your home clean, here's what your smart mop does with your data
Robot vacuums have a lot of dirt on you. Is yours sharing data?
Komando.com
A new report highlights how much data robotic vacuums actually share about you, and if you’re using one to keep your home tidy, you need to know the details.

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