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The New York Times has a story about how smart home technologies, which allow for the use of the internet to remotely control lights, locks, air conditioning and even cameras inside a house, also are being used by domestic abusers “as a means for harassment, monitoring, revenge and control.”

An excerpt:

“In more than 30 interviews with The New York Times, domestic abuse victims, their lawyers, shelter workers and emergency responders described how the technology was becoming an alarming new tool. Abusers — using apps on their smartphones, which are connected to the internet-enabled devices — would remotely control everyday objects in the home, sometimes to watch and listen, other times to scare or show power. Even after a partner had left the home, the devices often stayed and continued to be used to intimidate and confuse.

“For victims and emergency responders, the experiences were often aggravated by a lack of knowledge about how smart technology works, how much power the other person had over the devices, how to legally deal with the behavior and how to make it stop … Connected home devices have increasingly cropped up in domestic abuse cases over the past year, according to those working with victims of domestic violence. Those at help lines said more people were calling in the last 12 months about losing control of Wi-Fi-enabled doors, speakers, thermostats, lights and cameras.

“Lawyers also said they were wrangling with how to add language to restraining orders to cover smart home technology.”

The Times goes on to note that “no groups or individuals appear to be tracking the use of internet-connected devices in domestic abuse, because the technology is relatively new, though it is rapidly catching on. In 2017, 29 million homes in the United States had some smart technology, according to a report by McKinsey, which estimated that the number was growing by 31 percent a year.”
KC's View:
This is an extraordinary story, focusing on unexpected and collateral damage that is just heartbreaking. It seems clear that a lot of re-education has to happen - of judges and lawyers and police and emergency responders, all of whom have to understand that the neanderthals who abuse their spouses have to have restrictions placed on them that never were considered before.