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Why an Amazon router scares me



Amazon has just acquired the start of Eero mesh networks for an undisclosed sum. This is great news for the founders of Eero that, no doubt, are at the height of Bezos' money, and it will surely be a great move for Amazon, which can now control an unknown number of people's Wi-Fi routers. However, it is a cause for concern if you are an Eero user who is trying to avoid giving your data to Amazon.

I've been a fan of Eero since the company first announced its smart Wi-Fi system four years ago. I even met the co-founder and CEO of Eero, who was kind enough to visit the Gizmodo headquarters and show me an early prototype of the elegant white router, which could be connected to other Eero routers to create a mesh network of any size. Even better, the entire system was controlled with a practical application for smartphones. Its attractive industrial design and intuitive user experience made it look like an Apple product, and I remember thinking, "I bet Apple will buy this company someday."

Well, now Amazon has. I like to imagine that Apple would have been the parent company that made Eero run smoothly with iOS and Mac devices while duplicating the router's privacy settings. Instead, we have Amazon, a company that is likely to leave these things in the throat of all Prime customers in existence. We must also ask ourselves if Amazon will take advantage of the possession of the main Internet access point for millions of Eero users.

At this time, Eero says it collects anonymous data as aggregated metrics to improve network performance. It is important to note that the company also says that it "never tracks the websites it visits or collects the content of its network traffic." There is a bit more room for maneuver in Eero's privacy policy; for the most part, the policy is pretty clear that Eero is not secretly tracking you in pernicious ways.

I contacted Amazon and Eero to ask about any changes in the data collection or privacy policy. Amazon provided background information. Eero did not answer me, however, in a tweet, the beginning of the router wrote: "… eero and Amazon take the client's privacy very seriously and we will continue to protect it. eero does not track the activity of customers on the Internet and this policy will not change with the acquisition. "

That seems quite unmistakable, but let's go back and look at Amazon's history. We know that Amazon has a history of collecting large amounts of data about its users through its website by tracking what it browses and buys, as well as through its hardware products. Take Alexa, for example. While Alexa usually only registers its commands after saying the word Wake, "Amazon processes and retains its Alexa Interactions, such as its voice entries, music playlists and its task lists and Alexa purchases, in the cloud to provide, customize, and improve our services, "according to Alexa's Terms of Use. The terms of Fire TV include similar subsidies.

At first glance, it is innocent, who does not want improved services? But the consent granted to Amazon when it accepts the terms is really vague. It could mean many things. Take, for example, the Amazon Prime credit card, issued by Chase Bank. Kashmir Hill of Gizmodo recently tried to find out how much Amazon learned about her when she spent money with her Amazon co-branded credit card. To his chagrin, neither Amazon nor Chase would say it in clear terms. A credit card expert told Hill that she suspects that "there is a lot of data that is being extracted from this," which led her to conclude that the most private way is to use the card only for purchases from Amazon and Whole Foods, since Amazon already knows what they are.

For all unanswered questions about the specifics of Amazon data practices, it's pretty clear that the company makes a lot of money collecting data and leveraging it to direct its customers to buy more things at Amazon. It is also common sense that Amazon is approaching a large acquisition like Eero assuring customers that it will be very easy and that people who already loved the routers could continue to love them in the same way. This is something like the way Amazon bought Whole Foods, did not say anything about the sale of Echos in the product aisle, and then, a few months later, "Farm Fresh" appeared next to the citrus pyramids.

We do not know what the company will do in the long term with its new small manufacturer of routers. Maybe Amazon will reduce the price, as it did with so many purchases after the acquisition of Whole Foods. It will probably promote the output of Eero devices by pushing them to the top of every Amazon search for Wi-Fi routers and launching them to Prime Day next summer. Possibly, possibly, Amazon will find new ways to use routers to infer more about customers and sell them more garbage. Amazon controls the pipes that feed the backbone of the Internet through AWS. It is the largest online retailer by far. Just imagine how much more I could learn about you if you controlled your Wi-Fi router. Or do not do it It's pretty scary


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