Is your vacuum cleaner spying on you? + RESPONSE from iRobot…

The following is from an open letter to iRobot CEO Colin Angle. His company makes the very popular Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. On Monday, ZDNet’s Jake Smith wrote about iRobot’s intention to sell mapping data from customers’ homes to other companies.

❝ Dear Colin,

One of the ways Webster defines “dear” is “highly valued” or “precious.” So, when I start a letter with “Dear Colin,”…I’m just using a commonly accepted way of starting a letter.

This is relevant to our discussion because you’ve recently talked about taking from your customers information that is dear to them, even though you’ve never met most of the people who enjoy the benefits of your products. When your customers buy your products, there are some common expectations.

❝ It looks like you may be thinking about or trying to violate those expectations. By extension, it’s looking like you might be violating the trust given to you by your customers. Even worse, you could be opening the door to security risks that are far worse than they would be worth, just so you can make a few extra bucks on the side.

In a recent Reuters interview, you talked about the value of mapping data, both for doing the job of cleaning a room, and for understanding the environment where internet-connected things need to interoperate. So far, I’m with you…

That data could be used to help maximize lighting, tune sound, optimize microphones, determine when people or pets are in a space, and help conserve energy. All that is good…

❝ But here’s the thing that has the whole internet a-flutter. Apparently, you’re trying to sell that mapping data. I understand that…but once you get into the mode of selling data, the potential for abuse rears its oh-so-ugly head.

You’re no longer mapping our homes to make sure you don’t tear out a power cord or fall down a flight of stairs. You’re moving into the realm of spying on your customers. In your case, though, it’s far worse than those stories of possible always-on webcams or TV sets…

See, none of those other devices can move around the house on their own power. If my TV is in the living room, I know it’s there. If I’m concerned about my privacy, I’m probably not going to parade my naked butt in front of it. But a Roomba can decide to wake itself up. It can wander around the house. It can measure, map, and with your onboard camera, even take pictures.

What could go wrong?

The CEO of iRobot has been further interviewed by ZDNet. He denies that the firm will sell customer data. Pls read it. Judge for yourself.

GOP senators trust Paul Ryan as little as they trust Trump. Want written guarantee “skinny repeal” of Obamacare won’t become law!


Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Ron JohnsonAP

The Senate Republican healthcare process descended into disarray Thursday evening, as four GOP senators threatened to withhold support for a more moderate, “skinnier” attempt at repealing certain parts of the Affordable Care Act.

“I am not going to vote for the skinny bill if I’m not assured by the House there will be a conference where my idea and other ideas will be taken up so we can actually repeal Obamacare,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in a press conference Thursday with Sens. John McCain, Ron Johnson, and Bill Cassidy.

Graham added: “I’m not going to vote for a bill that is terrible policy and horrible politics just because we have to get something done.”

The last-ditch, so-called skinny repeal effort would consist of a series of amendments would aim to repeal certain unpopular parts of the Affordable Care Act, including mandates to get health insurance.

At the end of the 20-hour debate period, if no bill has been picked up, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would move on to the “skinny repeal” plan. If passed, it could lead to the House and Senate working together to compromise on one final bill in conference.

You’ll hear lots of rationales saying this is how a compromise will be worked out. The senators made it clear that compromise will include Democrats.

After the press conference, House Speaker Paul Ryan expressed a willingness to take the bill to conference.

“If moving forward requires a conference committee, that is something the House is willing to do,” he said.

The four GOP senators said they wanted assurances from House Republican leadership — including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — that they would not pass the bill, which Graham called a “fraud.”

The senators didn’t specify what kind of assurances they would request.

It’s like pornography. You’ll know it when you see it,” Graham said.

No one in the Senate is ready to take Ryan’s word. If Trump is impeached – and Senators working on that plan to include Pence in any criminal cover-up – Ryan gets to be President. He can taste it, already.

The Senators realize that, too. And BTW everyone expects ANY conference on this bill to fail. Requiring a do-over.

The so-called skinny repeal of Obamacare is the kinder, gentler version of Republican politics. It would only screw 16 million eople out of health insurance.