A shocking incident has come to light where a woman's Roomba robot vacuum cleaner snapped embarrassing pictures of her on the toilet, only for them to end up on Facebook, shared by gig workers in a foreign country. This disturbing revelation was recently reported by the MIT Technology Review.
The MIT Technology Review recently revealed that during the fall of 2020, gig workers based in Venezuela posted various pictures on online platforms and discussed work-related matters. These images, some of which were intimate in nature, showed scenes from inside homes taken from a low perspective.
One of the images that were posted by gig workers in Venezuela showed a young woman sitting on a toilet with her shorts pulled down to mid-thigh. According to the MIT Technology Review, these images were taken by her Roomba J7 series robot vacuum made by iRobot and were later sent to Scale AI, a startup that contracts workers to label audio, photo, and video data to train artificial intelligence. It is worth noting that Amazon is currently in the process of acquiring iRobot, potentially driven by a desire to collect as much data as possible from their customers.
Internet-connected devices, such as the woman's Roomba vacuum cleaner in this case, have the ability to capture photos and videos and send them back to the cloud for review. However, earlier this year, the MIT Technology Review obtained 15 screenshots of private photos that were posted to closed groups on social media sites like Facebook. This raises concerns about the potential for Big Tech employees and contractors to potentially eavesdrop on customers, as previously reported by Breitbart News in relation to Amazon employees and contractors sharing Alexa recordings in groups.
According to the MIT Technology Review, the series of photos featured a range of subjects and varied in the amount of personal information they disclosed. The most private images were a set of video frames showing a young woman on the toilet, with her face obscured in the main image but visible in the following, low-resolution shots. Another photo depicted a child, estimated to be around eight or nine years old, lying on his stomach on a hallway floor with a triangle of disheveled hair falling over his forehead. The child's face was clearly visible and he appeared to be amused as he looked at the camera, which was positioned just below his line of sight.
According to a statement provided to the MIT Technology Review, iRobot explained that the people whose photos were shared on social media by contractors were aware that they were being recorded.
iRobot—the world’s largest vendor of robotic vacuums, which Amazon recently acquired for $1.7 billion in a pending deal—confirmed that these images were captured by its Roombas in 2020. All of them came from “special development robots with hardware and software modifications that are not and never were present on iRobot consumer products for purchase,” the company said in a statement. They were given to “paid collectors and employees” who signed written agreements acknowledging that they were sending data streams, including video, back to the company for training purposes. According to iRobot, the devices were labeled with a bright green sticker that read “video recording in progress,” and it was up to those paid data collectors to “remove anything they deem sensitive from any space the robot operates in, including children.”
You can find more information on the story from the MIT Technology Review here.
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