Roomba testers feel misled after intimate footage ends up on Facebook
What else, all test participants had to agree that their data could be used for machine learning and object detection training. Specifically, the Global Test Agreement’s “Use of Research Information” section required an acknowledgment that “text, video, images, or audio…may be used by iRobot to analyze statistics and usage data, diagnosing technology issues, improving product performance, product and showcase innovation, market research, sales presentations and internal training, including machine learning and object detection .
What is not specified here is that iRobot does the machine learning training through human data labelers who teach the algorithms, click by click, to recognize the individual elements captured in the raw data. . In other words, the agreements shared with us never explicitly mention that personal images will be viewed and analyzed by other humans.
Baussmann, spokesperson for iRobot, said the language we highlighted “covers a variety of test scenarios” and is not specific to images sent for data annotation. “For example, testers are sometimes asked to take photos or videos of a robot’s behavior, such as when it gets stuck on a certain object or does not fully dock, and send such photos or videos to iRobot,” he wrote, adding that “for tests in which images will be captured for annotation purposes, there are specific terms which are described in the agreement for that test. .”
He also wrote that “we cannot be sure that the people you spoke with were part of the development work related to your article”, although he notably did not dispute the veracity of the test agreement. worldwide, which finally allows all test user data to collect and use for machine learning.
What Users Really Understand
When we asked lawyers and privacy experts to review consent agreements and shared test user concerns with them, they saw the documents and the privacy breaches have emerged as emblematic of a broken consent framework that affects us all, whether we are beta testers or regular consumers.
Experts say companies are well aware that people rarely read privacy policies carefully, if at all. But what iRobot’s global testing agreement attests to, says Ben Winters, an Electronic Privacy Information Center attorney who focuses on AI and human rights, is that “even if you read it, you still don’t get clarity”.
On the contrary, “much of this language appears to be designed to exempt the company from applicable privacy laws, but none of it reflects the reality of how the product works,” Cahn says, pointing to the mobility of robot vacuums. and the inability to control where potentially sensitive people or objects, especially children, are at any given time in their own home.
In the end, this “place[s] much of the onus…on the end user,” notes Jessica Vitak, an information scientist at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies who studies best practices in search and consent policies. Still, it doesn’t give them a real account of “how things could go wrong,” she says, “which would be very valuable information in deciding whether or not to participate.”
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