Transparency reports are standard practice across the tech industry, disclosing the nature, quantity and scope of all the law enforcement requests each company receives in a given year.
But there's a notable exception to this practice: the "smart home" companies who sell you products that fill your house with gadgets that know every intimate fact of your life -- all-seeing eyes, all-listening ears, all-surveillance network taps. The companies that sell these products refuse to say whether (or how) they are being suborned to serve as state surveillance adjuncts by law enforcement.
What the smaller but notable smart home players said August, a smart lock maker, said it “does not currently have a transparency report and we have never received any National Security Letters or orders for user content or non-content information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA),” but did not comment on the number of subpoenas, warrants and court orders it receives. “August does comply with all laws and when faced with a court order or warrant, we always analyze the request before responding,” a spokesperson said.
Roomba maker iRobot said it “has not received any demands from governments for customer data,” but wouldn’t say if it planned to issue a transparency report in the future.
Both Arlo, the former Netgear smart home division, and Signify, formerly Philips Lighting, said they do not have transparency reports. Arlo didn’t comment on its future plans, and Signify said it has no plans to publish one.
Ring, a smart doorbell and security device maker, did not answer our questions on why it doesn’t have a transparency report, but said it “will not release user information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us” and that Ring “objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.” When pressed, a spokesperson said it plans to release a transparency report in the future, but did not say when.
Spokespeople for Honeywell and Canary — both of which have smart home security products — did not comment by our deadline.
Smart home makers hoard your data, but won’t say if the police come for it [Zack Whittaker/Techcrunch]