Digital Rights Watch is calling on the government to tighten privacy laws in light of Amazon’s $2.5 billion (US$1.7 billion) acquisition of iRobot, the manufacturer of the popular robot vacuum Roomba.
Many Roomba vacuums create detailed maps of users’ homes, information that will now belong to Amazon to be combined with data from their other products including Ring security cameras and Echo smart speakers.
Amazon already collects huge amounts of information about their users, raising both privacy and competition concerns. Each dataset that Amazon acquires increases their knowledge of our lives and increases their market power.
This acquisition comes shortly after Amazon purchased One Medical for $5.6 billion (US$3.9 billion), which will give it the capacity to combine health data with data from their other products like Alexa, Ring, Prime and now Roomba.
As Amazon pushes into medical, insurance and other industries, they are not just amassing information about our lives, but power over them. Privacy protections are a vital line of defence against expanding corporate power.
With Australia’s Privacy Act currently in review, Digital Rights Watch is calling for measures that would prevent large companies from acquiring more and more of our personal data.
Quotes attributable to James Clark, Executive Director of Digital Rights Watch
“At its core, Amazon is a surveillance company. Amazon protects its market power and profitability by using its scale to build detailed profiles on millions of people and uses that to predict market trends and manipulate user behaviour.”
“This acquisition isn’t about selling robot vacuums, this is so Amazon can gather even more information about our lives and our homes.”
“We should be concerned that any company can have this much information about how we live our lives. Amazon knows a lot about us and we know very little about them; that kind of asymmetry of power is very concerning for our rights and democracy.”
“The personal information about Australia’s and their homes shouldn’t be treated as an asset to be traded and acquired. This is sensitive and private information. There needs to be real limits on how it can be used, and especially on how it can be shared.”
“Imagine a future where Amazon could combine data about your living situation from Roomba, your purchasing habits from Amazon and your viewing habits on Prime video to determine your risk profile to adjust your insurance premiums. It’s clear that this is the direction Amazon is moving with their acquisitions. It should concern all of us that these corporations are amassing this much information about us and power over our lives.”
For further comment contact James Clark on email@example.com