Sonos Smart Speakers

Sonos Smart Speakers

Sonos
Wi-Fi Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 9, 2022

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Somewhat creepy

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.
mobile Privacy Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: No

Microphone

Device: Yes

App: Yes

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?

"Sonos does not and will not sell personal information about our customers. We want you to understand that information about our customers is an important part of our business. We only disclose your data as described in this Statement. We may share information with the following types of third parties: Third Party Vendors. Sonos uses a variety of third-party vendors to carry out services like website management and hosting, cloud-related services, online Product purchases and shipping (including fulfilling orders for Products or Services, delivering packages, sending postal mail and email), credit cards and other alternative payment processing, email communications, analysing data, providing marketing assistance, transmitting content, if applicable scoring credit risk, and providing customer service."

Sonos does not use information that personally identifies you to display interest-based ads, but they can share some anonymised & pseudoanonymised data with third-party advertising companies to provide ads of features on Sonos Radio: "If you decide to use Sonos Radio, we will share a subset of your pseudonymized and anonymized data with third party advertising companies to present, via Sonos Products, interest-based ads for features, products, and services that might be of interest to you. Specifically, we share the following information with our advertising partners: location, language, and genre of the station you are currently listening to (which is not based on your overall listening history). We will share anonymous information with advertisers, which describes the overall listening audience in general. We may also share limited location information (i.e. an IP address and anonymized ID) with some of our third party radio content partners who may run ads on their stations. We do not use information that personally identifies you to present interest-based ads. "

"If you choose to use Sonos Radio, we 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."

How can you control your data?

You can get your data deleted.
"Where we are using your personal information on the basis of your consent, you are entitled to withdraw that consent at any time. Moreover, where we process your personal information based on legitimate interest or the public interest, you have the right to object at any time to that use of your personal information.

We rely on you to ensure that your personal information is complete, accurate and current. Please do inform us promptly of any changes to or inaccuracies of your personal information by contacting [email protected] Please contact us at this email address if you want to submit any data related questions. We will respond to your request as soon as possible but certainly within 30 days."

"Sonos will retain your personal information:

for as long as we have a customer relationship with you and/or as necessary to enable you to use the website, your Sonos account and/or your Sonos Product(s);
for the period required to provide services that you request from us;
for the period required to provide marketing or other promotional materials that you request from us;
to comply with our legal obligations, including requirements of regulators and governmental agencies that have authority over us such as tax and/or accounting obligations, which usually require retaining certain transaction data for periods between 7 and 10 years after a transaction has occurred;
for the period required to resolve disputes with any parties and/or to investigate or defend against potential legal claims; and
otherwise as necessary to allow us to conduct our business in compliance with applicable laws and regulations."

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

Average

An email sent by Sonos accidentally to 450 customers revealed all of their email addresses to each other in January 2020.

Child Privacy Information

"Sonos does not target and is not intended to attract children under sixteen. Although visitors of all ages may navigate through our website or use our app, we do not knowingly collect or request personal information from those under the age of sixteen without parental consent. If, following a notification by a parent or guardian or discovery by other means, a child under sixteen has been improperly registered on our site using false information, we will cancel the child's account and delete the child's personal information from our records."

Can this product be used offline?

No

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

Sonos doesn't have the easist privacy policy to read, but it is mostly clear and full of decent explanations of what data they collect and how it is used.

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Uses encryption in transit and at rest.

Strong password

Yes

Security updates

Yes

Automatic updates are enabled by default.

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Sonos does not have an official bug bounty program, but invites responsible disclosure of security bugs.

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

Sonos provides its own voice assistant.

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

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

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Yes

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Yes

*privacy not included

Dive Deeper

  • Sonos Voice Control Is A Privacy-First Alternative To Alexa And Google
    Slash Gear
  • New Sonos Digital Assistant May Protect Consumer Privacy
    Consumer Reports
  • Sonos Voice Control review: a speedy, private, music-focused assistant
    The Verge
  • A Sonos survey suggests the company might build a voice assistant of its own
    The Verge

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