Sonos Smart Speakers
Review date: Nov. 9, 2022
Sonos' smart speakers -- which include the One, the Roam, and the Move -- take the sound quality of Sonos speakers and adds in voice control, now via their own super privacy-friendly Sonos Voice Control (yay!). You can still use Alexa or Google Assistant through your Sonos smart speaker too. But you don’t have to! And that is great news for privacy-minded people. Play music, set alarms, ask questions, get answers, pretend like you don't live alone, all with these rather pricey, but still stellar, privacy respecting speakers.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
We here at *Privacy Not Included really like Sonos. They went and built their own AI voice assistant for their Sonos smart speakers that processes all your voice requests right on the device. So, when you ask Sonos to play Taylor Swift’s new album over and over using their Sonos voice assistant, no one hears that but you. Sonos does not retain a copy or transcript of your voice recording. This is way better than Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant AI’s that collect and process and retain lots of information about you. So, when you get your new Sonos smart speaker, you will have to actively enable a voice assistant and we recommend using the Sonos one over Alexa or Google Assistant if you care about privacy.
Beyond their new privacy-minded voice assistant, Sonos does a decent job with privacy and security as a whole. They say they do not and will not sell personal information about their customers, which, yay! And while they do collect information on you -- such as your name, phone number, and email address if you provide it, general location data, and information about you from third party sources such as music service partners -- they don’t seem to share that information widely with third parties for a lot of targeted, interest based advertising.
If you decide to use Sonos Radio, a $7.99 subscription service that plays you curated music and lets you tune into over 60,000 radio stations around the world, Sonos says they “may use information such as your interactions with Sonos site, Sonos Radio content, Sonos Products, Sonos app and other Services to display interest-based ads for features, products, and services that might be of interest to you. We do not use information that personally identifies you to display interest-based ads.” This doesn’t worry us too much.
The biggest privacy worry with the Sonos smart speaker comes if you choose to use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant rather than Sonos’ own AI voice assistant. Those voice requests to Alexa or Google Assistant are sent to Amazon and Google even if Sonos doesn't hang on to any of your voice recordings. Amazon and Google will collect data on you from those voice requests.
What’s the worst that could happen with the Sonos’ smart speakers? Well, we suppose you could choose to use Amazon’s Alexa rather than Sonos’ own voice assistant. And then Amazon gets to know even more about you than they already do because they keep a record of those voice requests you make. Amazon probably already knows tons about you, so this might not be a big deal. But, if you’re trying to keep Amazon from being all up in your business, go with Sonos’ own voice assistant.
Tips to protect yourself
- Use Sonos own voice assistant instead of Alexa or Google Assistant
- If you are using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, adjust the respective privacy settings of the service.
- Opt out of additional usage data collection
- When starting a sign-up, do not agree to tracking of your data.
- Do not sign up with third-party accounts. Better just log in with email and strong password.
- Chose a strong password! You may use a password control tool like 1Password, KeePass etc
- Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images, location unless neccessary)
- Keep your app regularly updated
- Limit ad tracking via your device (eg on iPhone go to Privacy -> Advertising -> Limit ad tracking) and biggest ad networks (for Google, go to Google account and turn off ad personalization)
- Request your data be deleted once you stop using the app. Simply deleting an app from your device usually does not erase your personal data.
Can it snoop on me?
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Name, email, phone number, password
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
An email sent by Sonos accidentally to 450 customers revealed all of their email addresses to each other in January 2020.
Child Privacy Information
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
Uses encryption in transit and at rest.
Automatic updates are enabled by default.
Sonos does not have an official bug bounty program, but invites responsible disclosure of security bugs.
Sonos Voice Control Is A Privacy-First Alternative To Alexa And GoogleSlash Gear
New Sonos Digital Assistant May Protect Consumer PrivacyConsumer Reports
Sonos Voice Control review: a speedy, private, music-focused assistantThe Verge
A Sonos survey suggests the company might build a voice assistant of its ownThe Verge
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