Rights Group sounds alarm bells after Amazon buys iRobot

Amazon’s $1.7 billion (A$2.4 billion) acquisition deal for iRobot, the developer of the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, would see the e-commerce giant stop collecting personal information if it doesn’t do anything to protect it. digital rights watch warned.

On Friday, the two companies announced they had entered into a definitive merger in an all-cash transaction.

The acquisition comes on the heels of Amazon’s acquisition of healthcare company One Medical in July, according to the nonprofit Digital Rights Watch, which allows it to embed health data into existing artificial intelligence products such as Alexa. You will be able to

Roomba has the ability to collect, create and upload detailed maps of people’s homes, allowing for additional features such as cleaning only specific rooms.

Such information, along with a wealth of other information we collect, will be made available to Amazon.

Call for privacy protection

Advocacy groups have called on the Australian government to strengthen privacy laws in its current privacy law review to prevent large companies from collecting more personal data.

“Essentially, Amazon is a surveillance company. Amazon uses its scale to create detailed profiles of millions of people, which it uses to predict market trends and manipulate user behavior. By doing so, we protect market power and profitability,” said James Clark, executive director of Digital Rights Watch. media release.

“This acquisition is not to sell robot vacuums, but to help Amazon gather more information about our lives and homes.

“Any company should be concerned that they may have so much information about how we live. We know very little about them, and this kind of power asymmetry is very concerning for our rights and our democracy.”

Epoch Times photo
A Roomba robot vacuum cleaner made by iRobot is displayed on a shelf in a Bed Bath and Beyond store in Larkspur, Calif., August 5, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Clark said personal information shouldn’t be treated as an asset for trading and there should be limits on how companies can use and share it.

“Imagine a future where Amazon could combine data about how you live from Roomba, your buying habits from Amazon, and your viewing habits on Prime Video to determine your risk profile and adjust your premiums,” he said. rice field.

Roomba is the most popular home robot vacuum among consumers, with iRobot having a 75% market share in robot vacuums, according to industry database Statistica.

As such, competition issues regarding Amazon’s market dominance have also been raised in Washington, with U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Lina Khan already proceeding with an antitrust review of Amazon’s previous One Medical acquisition.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Amazon Australia for comment.

Caden Pearson contributed to this report.

Rebecca Chu


Rebecca Zhu is based in Sydney. She focuses on the national politics of Australia and New Zealand. Any tips? Please contact her at [email protected]