Your Information or Theirs?

The concept of allowing a company you purchase from to share your information with other companies has become very commonplace in our modern society.  Information like your name, email address, phone number(s), and even physical or mailing address are common pieces of information that will get shared by companies and you usually agree to it without even knowing you’re doing it.  Buried within most “Terms of Service” agreements will be some sort of clause that allows the company to share your data with other vendors or even to sell your data for their own profit.

What most of us do not realize is that the definition of that information is evolving almost as fast as technology.  The most recent and surprising example of this type of data sharing comes from the company iRobot, the makers of the popular Roomba vacuum.  According to an article by Hacker News, Roombas being manufactured since 2015 not only vacuum but also map your entire house as they do.  iRobot is apparently planning on selling and/or sharing this data with third-parties.

iRobot CEO Colin Angle stated, “there’s an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared.”

Angle also mentioned that he is planning to push the company toward a broader vision of the smart home, and in the near future iRobot could sell your floor data with the business like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.  He does add the caveat that it wouldn’t be without the user’s consent.

While I see the vision of the company and the positive aspects of sharing the data between devices inside a single home or building, the idea of data that specific about my life and my home simply scares me.  I have to ask myself, as should these companies, where do we stop or how much is too much?  I also worry about whether or not they will actually inform or request separate permission from their customers before they do this or if they just rely on their existing Terms of Service agreement.

Another, larger question on my mind deals with where will it go from here.  What new types of information will start to be gathered and sold by all of these new Internet of Things (IoT) devices we keep adding to our lives.  At what point is our privacy just not going to matter anymore? Honestly, it’s not technology or progress that is to blame, but rather the lack of forethought and the lack of care about people that I feel causes these issues.

My advice, as usual, is pay attention and be careful.  Be as aware as you can of the technology you use and the companies that make it.  Protect your data and your privacy at all costs.  If you have any doubts or questions, you can always contact us here at Cyber Watchtower and we will be glad to help in any way we can.

Austin Bynum
Chief Watchman
Cyber Watchtower

Austin Bynum has spent the last 18 years working in IT and network security.  His passion is to ensure everyone stays safe online and digitally.  His belief is that everyone has the right to be safe online without having to be their own expert.