Guys...they're NOT interested in any of your personal data. They're interested in you'r ISP's performance...period. They're measuring things like dropped packets, failed DNS requests, latency, video streaming rates, and download/upload speeds. Think of it like this: say the govt put a device on your engine to measure actual gas consumption under certain conditions. That device would not record where you actually drove the car, what you kept in the car, etc. It would only measure how much gas the engine consumed at any given time, so they could compare that data with reports from the automakers.
And not to sound rude or trollish, but SamKnows was real upfront about what the offer entails: we need to collect data, and we need volunteers to do it. To collect the data we seek, we need to install custom firmware on your router. To accomplish this, we'll send you a new, state of the art router with our firmware installed. The router is yours to keep for as long as you collect this data for us. We intend to collect data for 3 years. If you stay with us for the whole data collection period, the router is yours to keep. Should you ever decide you no longer want to participate, we'll want the router back.
As a side perk, you'll have access to this data throughout the testing period,, through a user control panel, that allows you to view your stats. This has already helped me. Verizon insisted they had no interruptions one day last week. Although I took advantage of a nearby open wireless while my verizon was wonky, the router continued to collect data on my connection, verifying the outage Verizon claimed did not exist. I wish I could get my neighbor to run this on his cable connection--I'd love to compare the actual performance numbers to see which is really the better deal for internet access.
I would NOT suggest returning it to any store for credit. A person could actually be charged with fraud for doing this. This is NOT an off the shelf netgear router, but rather, one made specifically for samknows, with a slip of paper inside the sealed box that indicates this. If you decide you do not want to participate, log in to your account and request a return label.
Again, they're NOT collecting data on YOUR behavior; they're collecting data on your provider's actual performance, so that they can compare that with what your provider reports. The government has NO current data on actual performance, but rather, all of their current data is based on self-reports. This router gives you the opportunity to provide the government with data on the actual performance of your personal connection, and may force your local provider to be more honest about what they're actually selling you. I'm actually rather excited about being able to be a part of this effort.