September 24, 2022

According to Politico, the United States FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is reviewing Amazon’s purchase of iRobot, a robotics firm. The commission is assessing if the contract breached the antitrust law.

Amazon’s Acquisition Of iRobot Sparks Public Outrage 

The news media, Politico, said sources familiar with the news claim the FTC is probing Amazon’s recent acquisition of iRobot. Amazon has been investing in the smart home market recently.

The company has launched a smart assistant, Alexa, and even launched a Ring doorbell system. The report alleged that adding Roomba devices to the list could give Amazon an unfair advantage in the industry.

In August, the billion-dollar company revealed its intention to purchase iRobot for over $1.7 billion. iRobot is the producer of Roomba, a popular vacuum cleaning robot. 

In the company’s press announcement, it planned to pay $61 for each share in the company in cash. This has sparked controversy among Americans, with many citing various issues.

Users allege that Amazon might use the robot to scan the interior of users’ houses. This would give the company insight into the furniture and decorations available in the home.

Consequently, the firm might begin to target ads suggesting new items for users to buy. Also, various critics believe this would give Amazon more advantage over other tech companies in the market.

This could stifle the growth and development of other companies in the sector, leading to a monopoly. Additionally, the CMA is Probing the company for allegedly misusing 3rd party seller data.

Amazon Reportedly Breaching Users’ Privacy 

There are reports the company is using this data to sell its retail products to the public. Also, Public Citizen, a consumer rights group, has called out the company.

They argue the company could use iRobot’s products to violate the privacy of users. In July, the firm also came under fire after it allegedly gave the US police departments access to video footage from its Ring cameras.

Reports alleged that the company did so more than 11 times in 2021. Robert Weissman, the leader of Public Citizen, stated that Amazon would most likely begin to vacuum people’s personal details.

He added that:

“This is more than Amazon selling devices in the market. The problem is that Amazon would capitalize on these devices to steal users’ data and sell them more stuff.”

Meanwhile, iRobot is an addition to the firm’s robotics portfolio. In June, the company introduced a new race of robots. 

The company plans to use these robots for heavy loading and lifting items throughout its fulfillment centers. According to reports, these robots would be the first to operate independently and alongside human workers in the warehouse. 

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