Smart Home Devices Are Being Exploited By Abusive Partners In Terrifying Ways
George Orwell's 1984 centers around an oppressive, violent government that uses always-on surveillance not only to keep tabs on every citizen under its control, but to also dish out unimaginable pain and torment on dissenters. Unfortunately, such a setup does exist in today's world -- not in regards to state surveillance (although we're trying our hardest to get there), but in your favorite cutesily named smart home devices.
According to a recent expose by The New York Times, there's a growing trend in domestic violence cases for abusers to use smart home devices -- such as Hive and Nest -- to make their victims' existence a living hell, even after they've been kicked out of the home. From turning off air conditioners to turning up the thermostat to playing loud music through smart speakers to ringing doorbells to permalocking the front door to, of course, using cameras to spy on your every movement, it seems that the tools designed to sate our capacity for laziness can, in the wrongest of circumstances, be used to sate our capacity for cruelty.
Christian Delbert /Adobe StockThey say there's no set look for an abuser, but this is still not what we were envisioning.
The effects on victims can be devastating. One compared it to "jungle warfare," but without the jungle, since the attacks could come from anywhere. The worrying thing is that there are no obvious solutions to this problem. At first glance, you'd think one could simply change the settings to lock out the abuser or remove the smart devices altogether ... but it's hard to do that unless you have access to the account (guess who probably has that locked down tight?), can recognize that you're being abused, or even know if there are smart devices in your home.
Moreover, there's no sign that there's even a way of making this illegal. We only recently started cracking down on revenge porn, for crying out loud. How long do you think it's going to take the legal establishment to pick up on abusers using indentured virtual robots to harass people? Let's put it this way: We might have actual robots by that time.
Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter dedicated to depressing history facts. It's not as heartbreakingly sad as it sounds, promise!
Kinda makes you want to go low-tech and just try some watercolors.
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