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Amazon collecting Roomba data
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Security & privacy

Is your Roomba spying? How to stop your robot vacuum from sharing data

Are your smart speakers always listening? Big Tech companies will argue, but the answer is yes. Tap or click here for the Amazon Echo settings you need to change to protect your privacy.

It’s not just speakers you need to worry about. Any connected device in your house can be used to monitor you. This even includes your robot vacuum.

In August, Amazon announced it’d acquired iRobot, makers of the Roomba, for $1.7 billion. This doesn’t bode well for privacy. Aside from cleaning your house, the higher-tier Roomba vacuums can map floor plans to enhance their cleaning prowess. You’ll want to opt out of as much tracking as possible. Here’s how.

Amazon is a data-driven company

Every purchase on Amazon is analyzed and tracked to customize your browsing experience when you use the site. If you and a friend log in to Amazon simultaneously, you’ll see different products on your home pages.

The company can even anticipate what you may like and have those products ready in a warehouse when you order them. This is why you’ll get faster shipping options on products you’ve ordered before or similar ones.

With its purchase of iRobot, Amazon now has access to the Roomba, which is so popular that its name is synonymous with all smart vacs.

Data is the lifeblood of companies like Amazon. When Amazon acquired Ring in 2018, it gained access to security camera footage from millions of customers. Ring also supplied footage to law enforcement multiple times without doorbell owners’ consent. Tap or click here to stop law enforcement from asking for videos.

Amazon wants to collect more dirt on you

Why did Amazon shell out nearly $2 billion for iRobot? Partly to get more information on you, of course. Some Roombas are equipped with cameras and sensors to avoid cables, furniture and even dog poop. High-end models map your home’s layout to do a better cleaning job. It’s all right there in Roomba’s privacy policy.

Cleaner floors, but at what cost? Here’s how that data can be used:

  • Amazon can learn the square footage of your home to estimate your wealth. 
  • Is there space for a recliner in that corner or a couch over there? Amazon may try to sell you one. 
  • Do you have a bunch of toys lying around? Amazon could recommend more for your little ones.
  • Have any pets? Surprise, surprise — Amazon might send you recommendations for food, treats, beds and more.

Amazon already knows enough about you. You don’t need the retail juggernaut snooping around your home.

Opt out of your Roomba’s invasive features

Let’s go through a few ways to keep your Roomba (and Amazon) from knowing too much about you. This can all be done from the Roomba mobile app:

  • Turn off Mapping Features: Open the Roomba app and tap the three-line hamburger menu in the upper left. Next, select Account > Privacy > Mapping Features. Now select the Roomba device you want to change. If you named your Roomba, tap the name. Slide the toggle next to Mapping Features to the left to disable it.
  • Do a factory reset to erase all data: Open the Roomba app, scroll down and select Robot Settings. Next, select Remove/Factory Reset (the name of your Roomba). Finally, tap Factory Reset (the name of your Roomba). Note that you’ll lose all your settings. Your Roomba will revert to the same state it was when you first received it.
  • Delete your account: This step will disconnect your Roomba from the app. Roomba will still connect to your Wi-Fi to clean, return to the dock and spot clean. First, perform a factory reset (see above step). Then, tap the three-line hamburger menu in the upper left. Next, select Account > Customer name/Email > tap the three dots in the upper right > Request to delete Account.

While it’s nice to hand off housework to a robot, should you be worried one will take over your job? Here’s a list of industries most at risk of being replaced by robots.

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