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Why an Amazon Router freaks me out



Amazon has just achieved network startup Eero for an unfinished sum. This is good news for Eero's founders who are undoubtedly hacked in the Bezos dollar, and it's bound to be a good move for Amazon, who can now control an unknown number of people's Wi-Fi routers. However, there is cause for concern if you are an Eero user trying to avoid giving up your data to Amazon.

I've been a fan of Eero since the company first announced its intelligent wifi system four years ago. I even met Eero's founder and CEO who was nice enough to get to Gizmodo's headquarters and show me an early prototype of the elegant white router that could be connected to other Eero routers to create a network of any size. Even better, the entire system was controlled with a handy smartphone app. The stylish industrial design and the intuitive user experience made it seem like an Apple product, and I remember thinking about myself. "I bet Apple buys this company one day."

Well, now Amazon has. I like to imagine that Apple would have been the parent company that made Eero work seamlessly with iOS and Macs while doubling down on the router's privacy settings. Instead, we get Amazon, a company that is likely to push these things into the throats of every Prime customer in existence. We also have to wonder if Amazon will benefit from owning the primary Internet access point for millions of Eero users.

Eero now says it collects anonymous data as aggregated calculations to improve network performance. It is important that the company also states that it does not "track the sites you visit or collect the content of your network traffic." There is a little more wiggle room in the Eero Privacy Policy, mostly the policy is pretty clear that Eero doesn't divulge you secretly in malicious ways.

I went out to Amazon and Eero to inquire about any changes in data collection or privacy policy. Amazon provided some background information. Eero did not come back to me, but in a tweet wrote the router startup, "… eero and Amazon take customers' privacy very seriously, and we will continue to protect it. The policy will not change with the acquisition. "

It seems quite unambiguous, but let's go back and look at Amazon's track. We know that Amazon has a history of gathering large amounts of data about its users through the site by tracking what you surf and buy, as well as through hardware products. Take Alexa, for example. While Alexa usually only records your commands after you say the wake-up word, "Amazon treats and retains your Alexa interactions, such as your voice inputs, music playlists, and your Alexa act and shopping lists, in the cloud to give, personalize, and improve our services , "according to Alexa Terms of Use. Four TV terms contain similar permissions.

On his face it is innocent – who will not have better services? – But the consent you give to Amazon when you agree to the terms is actually the watchman. It can mean many things. Take, for example, Amazon Prime credit cards, issued by Chase Bank. Gizmodos Kashmir Hill recently tried to figure out how much Amazon learned about her when she spent money with her Amazon co-branded credit card. Much for her, neither Amazon nor Chase would say clearly. A credit card expert told Hill he suspects that "there is a lot of data from them", which led her to the conclusion that the most private path is to use the card only for the purchase of Amazon and Whole Foods since Amazon already knows what they are.

For all unanswered questions about the specifications of the Amazon data practices, it is clear that the company is making a lot of money by collecting data and exploiting it to manage its customers against buying more things on Amazon. It is also common sense that Amazon will approach a major acquisition such as Eero by assuring customers that it would be very convenient and people who already loved the routes could continue to love them the same way. This is as if Amazon bought Whole Foods, said nothing about selling Echos in the production run, and then a few months later came "Farm Fresh" Echos along with the pyramids of citrus.

We do not know what the company will do with the new small router maker in the long term. Perhaps Amazon will slash the price, as it did with so many groceries after the Whole Foods acquisition. Probably it will promote the hedge out of the Eero devices by sliding them to the top of each Amazon, searching for Wi-Fi routers, and blowing them out on Prime Day next summer. Possibly, just possibly, Amazon will find new ways to use the routers to derive more about customers and sell them more rubbish. Amazon controls the pipes that drive the internet backbone through AWS. It is by far the largest online retailer. Imagine how much more it can learn about you if it controls the Wi-Fi router. Or not. It's pretty scary.


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