We can now use devices around the home to switch on the lights, turn up the heat and even play our favourite song on Spotify, but should users proceed with caution when installing the latest smart device in their homes?
A report by The New York Times, through more than 30 interviews, revealed that individuals were victim to harassment and taunting, in what’s being labeled as a digital “tool of abuse”. Features that are designed to be controlled remotely have the potential to scare and confuse a person, creating a less than ideal home environment. Muneerah Bushwanie from the US National Domestic Violence Hotline said there have been numerous occasions of people calling up regarding this situation, “Callers have said the abusers were monitoring and controlling them…through the smart home system”.
In a lot of instances, victims were in relationships where one partner installed the device, explaining that the main problem stemmed from their lack of knowledge on the full capabilities of the smart technology. Lawyers too are struggling to phrase this form of domestic abuse in terms of restraining orders, with acts such as remotely turning on the TV being difficult to classify as contact with the victim.
Image: Google – Google Home Tech
This story is taken from the 29 June 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.