Posted on Aug 23, 2017 by Rick Falkvinge

Hardware maker: Give up your privacy and let us record what you say in your home, or we’ll destroy your property

Hardware maker Sonos has a new privacy policy, and is telling users that unless they agree to it, their devices may cease to function entirely. Of course, since people bought these devices, they’re those people’s property. And since Sonos is taking an action that they know will break these devices, Sonos is effectively saying they’ll willfully destroy your property unless you comply and give up your privacy. This is a new low.




Sonos is a high-end sound system maker, famous for being the first brand to have synchronized music in different rooms with an off-the-shelf device system. This week, they announced a new privacy policy, where they say they’ll be collecting a lot of data about you, including listening in to your room and (in a roundabout way) recording it. People were justifiably quite upset. It is in response to this community reaction that Sonos does the unforgivable: Sonos states that if people don’t accept “the new privacy policy” — meaning give up their privacy in their own home completely — Sonos is going to willfully destroy those people’s property.

“The customer can choose to acknowledge the policy, or can accept that over time their product may cease to function,” the Sonos spokesperson said, specifically.

Sonos is particularly sneaky about the part where they record sound. They say in their blog post that they “don’t keep the recordings” of sound recorded in your home, with the new Voice Assistant. However, they point out that they share their collected data with a large number of parties, the services of which you have “requested or authorized” — where people tend to read “requested”, but where “authorized” is the large part. Further, they point out that they share recorded sound with Amazon under all circumstances, and Amazon is already known to keep recordings for later use by authorities or others, so the point is kind of moot. “We don’t keep the recordings, we let others do it for us” would be a more straightforward wording.

As ZDNet notes, the community’s reaction has been quite hostile to the manufacturer who threatens to destroy their property, and not without justification.

For my personal purchasing choices, behaving like this is enough to get on my blacklist of manufacturers, just like when Sony willfully infected its customers with rootkit malware in 2005, and Sony made it onto my blacklist. (It’s a high bar to get there, and still, hardware makers keep inventing new audacious ways to clear that bar.)

Privacy remains your own responsibility.

About Rick Falkvinge

Rick is Head of Privacy at Private Internet Access. He is also the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. Additionally, he has a tech entrepreneur background and loves good whisky and fast motorcycles.


VPN Service

Leave a Reply to Artem Russakovskii Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 Comments

  1. DylanFromCanada

    What other manufacturers are on blacklist?

    4 months ago
    Reply
  2. Artem Russakovskii

    “where they say they’ll be collecting a lot of data about you, including listening in to your room and (in a roundabout way) recording it.”

    No, that is not what they said.

    “What Sonos hears, records and keeps
    First, you’ll notice that we’ve added a section on what it means if you choose to enable a voice assistant to control your Sonos system when that becomes available in your country. It’s no secret that we’ve been working on this for some time, and we want to make sure we’re preparing you well in advance of this addition. The most important thing for you to know is that Sonos does not keep recordings of your voice data. It goes to the voice assistant service (for example Amazon) that you’ve activated on your Sonos system. We’ve also included information on how our Trueplay technology analyzes your room to optimize how your product produces sound, if you choose to use it.”

    4 months ago
    Reply