Pervy Robot Vacuum ‘recorded images of woman on toilet that ended up on Facebook'

Dec 22, 2022 - 09:36
Dec 22, 2022 - 09:37
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Pervy Robot Vacuum  ‘recorded images of woman on toilet that ended up on Facebook'

A pervy robot vacuum cleaner has captured photographs of a young woman sitting on the toilet, and the images later turned up on Facebook.

News of the shocking data leak from iRobot’s new Roomba J7 series robot vacuum emerged this month.

The pictures had been taken using the camera from a test model of the household gadget and then sent to Scale AI, a startup that contracts workers around the world to label audio, photo, and video data used to train artificial intelligence systems.

From there, 15 photos somehow made their way onto private message boards used by IT workers in Venezuela, reports MIT Technology Review.

A spokesperson for autonomous vacuum cleaner pioneers iRobot admitted that the images had been captured by its devices in 2020.

However, they stressed that the pictures had been taken by “special development robots with hardware and software modifications that are not and never were present on iRobot consumer products for purchase”.

They added that the devices had been given to “paid collectors and employees” who had signed written agreements acknowledging that any data collected by the Roombas, including video, could be sent back to the company for training purposes.

The company said that the special test devices had been marked with a sticker that made it clear video recording was in progress and that they had advised the test subjects to “remove anything they deem sensitive from any space the robot operates in, including children.”

However, when asked the company declined to share copies of the signed agreements, or to offer any of the product testers for interview.

Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot, has said that the company is “terminating its relationship with the service provider who leaked the images, is actively investigating the matter, and [is] taking measures to help prevent a similar leak by any service provider in the future”.

Dennis Giese, from Boston’s Northeastern University, specialises in data security – particularly in the area of home devices such as Amazon’s Alexa household assistant. He says that autonomous vacuums like the Roomba are an area of particular concern: “They can drive around in your home and you have no way to control that,” he says.

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