Megacorporation Amazon has expanded its empire of data capturing devices by spending $1.7 billion purchasing beloved maker of vacuuming robots and former beloved maker of warzone robots iRobot, which makes Roombas. In addition to tidying up, Roombas are also great at mapping the interior of your home and creating marketable data for its parent company.
This, and its recent acquisition of One Medical, have made it harder and harder to escape Amazon’s panopticon and further entrench Jeff Bezos’s bookstore as an inescapable omnicorporation with its hands in every part of your daily life.
The iRobot acquisition also comes a year after Amazon revealed the Astro—a little Alexa on wheels that spies on you. Leaked documents acquired by Motherboard revealed that one of the goals of Astro was to create a robot that intelligently plotted out the interior of a user’s homes, even creating heat maps of highly trafficked areas. The Astro has not been well received, but people love their robot vacuums, which often do the same thing.
The news also comes weeks after the corporate giant purchased the healthcare company One Medical for $3.9 billion. These recent acquisitions give Amazon access to medical records, maps of customer homes, voice samples through Alexa, home network activity through its Eero brand of mesh routers, videos of neighborhoods and random passersby through Ring cameras, and a wealth of consumer data through its website. Then consider that a giant portion of the internet runs on Amazon Web Services, that 1 out of every 153 Americans is an Amazon worker, that it owns a large and popular grocery store chain, just subsumed GrubHub into its orbit, so on and so forth.
Even if you want to avoid it, it’s become impossible for Amazon to not touch some portion of your life. Amazon has repeatedly violated labor laws, puts its warehouse employees in dangerous work environments, and repeatedly shared footage from its Ring cameras with cops without getting a warrant. There’s a lot of reasons to boycott Amazon.
That’s increasingly hard to do. Even if you stopped buying things from Amazon, stopped watching The Boys, and removed every bit of Amazon backed tech from your home, you’d still have to contend with Amazon Web Services. The cloud servers have a 33% market share and are the single biggest point of failure for the internet. If you’re on the internet, then you’re surfing in the AWS cloud. It’s inescapable.
Every purchase cements Amazon’s market dominance and makes them that much more inescapable. A Roomba, in itself, is not scary. Paired with Amazon’s vast surveillance infrastructure it becomes something more sinister: another device in your home that gathers data and plugs it into Amazon’s systems. The corporation is always watching you, always touching your life, and always eager to figure out another way to sell you something.