Jun 25, 2018

Smart homes can make life hell for domestic violence victims

Ina Fried
A smart home security camera

A Smart Home security camera. Photo: Olly Curtis/MacFormat Magazine via Getty Images

Things like smart locks, security cameras and other "smart home" sensors can improve life for many. But like much of modern technology, these same technologies can also be used to evil ends.

What's happening: The New York Times' Nellie Bowles looks at one specific problem — how domestic abusers can use these technologies to further their domination over family members.

Why it matters: It's an important read for everyone, especially those creating such technologies. As Bowles writes:

"One woman had turned on her air-conditioner, but said it then switched off without her touching it. Another said the code numbers of the digital lock at her front door changed every day and she could not figure out why. Still another told an abuse help line that she kept hearing the doorbell ring, but no one was there.
Their stories are part of a new pattern of behavior in domestic abuse cases tied to the rise of smart home technology. Internet-connected locks, speakers, thermostats, lights and cameras that have been marketed as the newest conveniences are now also being used as a means for harassment, monitoring, revenge and control."

The bottom line: Unintended consequences matter — and can have a life-altering and negative impact.

Go deeper: This academic article, from researchers at several New York colleges, dives further into this issue.

Go deeper