Amazon’s Astro home robot probes deeper into our lives than the e-commerce giant’s existing technology, like its Ring security cameras and Alexa voice assistants. Astro’s array of features, including cameras, sensors and onboard AI, raise privacy concerns, especially because the robot is designed to make us love and trust it.
To function properly, Astro needs an enormous amount of personal data. Much of it stays on the device and some of it, video and voice recordings, gets sent back to Amazon’s cloud. The data stored on the cloud needs to be protected both from theft by hackers and from any intrusive use by Amazon. Because Astro’s features give its owners the ability to monitor what’s going on in their homes at all times, the little robot could be especially dangerous for people in abusive relationships.
Privacy advocates acknowledge Amazon’s effort to secure the data Astro uses. But ultimately, they say we don’t know what will become of it because Amazon could change its terms of service in a privacy threatening manner.