In the toilet, she is photographed by her robot vacuum cleaner, who posts the images to Facebook

In the toilet, she is photographed by her robot vacuum cleaner, who posts the images to Facebook

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Testers of iRobot’s Roomba vacuum robot were shocked to see photos taken by their device on social networks, some of which were particularly intimate.

It was definitely part of the short lines of the contract. But when people signed up to test robot vacuums, they didn’t expect to see pictures of their homes all over social media. However, this has been revealed in a survey by MIT Technology Review.

sharing on private groups

As part of a test, development versions of iRobot’s Roomba J7 robot vacuum collected much data between 2019 and 2022. This also includes pictures taken with the front camera of the device. It aims to improve the artificial intelligence of robots by sending all this information to Scale AI. The company specializes in cataloging audio, photo and video files for the purpose of training artificial intelligence.

The only problem is that the classification of the data is done by humans. So independent activists based in Venezuela treated these images well, but also shared them in private Facebook groups, Discord and other networks. In the leaked photos, we get the interior, the kitchen, the living room, but sometimes the humans are in the field. Among the most problematic images: of a minor child, barely eight or nine years old, or of a woman sitting on this toilet, in mid-thigh shorts.

One participant who took part in testing the device told American Review, “I had no idea the data was going overseas.”

very aggressive monitoring

Albert Fox Kahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a privacy advocacy group, said, “If the company is tricking people into signing up for this type of invasive surveillance, they don’t fully understand.” what they agree with.” MIT Technology Review.

It appears that iRobot was not aware of the leaked photos taken by its equipment. The company assured that the images were “shared in breach of a written non-disclosure agreement”. Since then, cooperation with ScaledAI has been discontinued by the robot vacuum cleaner manufacturer.

“iRobot has terminated its relationship with the service provider that leaked the images, is actively investigating this matter and is taking steps to help prevent a similar leak by any service provider in the future.” is picking up,” said company boss Colin Angle.


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