Merrell Law Firm, LLC

Smart home devices and domestic violence

Technological advancements have made our lives easier in many ways. Our cell phones, for instance, make calls in addition to being powerful mini computers. Smart homes also help us manage our lives in many ways, including remotely turning off that light you forgot was on before leaving home.

As smart homes have become more prevalent, so has the use of smart homes by domestic abusers to harass their victims remotely.

A troubling new trend

A report surfaced in 2018 of domestic violence survivors and how their abusers used their smart home systems against them. These survivors, typically women, reported experiencing minor annoyances like doorbells ringing with no one at the door to more aggravating acts like fluctuating thermostats.

Abusers were also able to track a survivor’s location, monitor their location through in-home cameras and prevent survivors from accessing smart home-linked doors and lights. These most sinister methods pose the greatest security threats for survivors.

Experts feel that simply unplugging the system could lead to other forms of violence or further isolation. Because the technology is so new, there aren’t many laws specifically geared to smart homes. This is an unfortunate consequence of technology advancing faster than the law.

Preventive measures to take

If someone is considering a protective order to stop this form of harassment, they should petition the judge to specifically include the smart home system as a prohibited means of contact. Documenting and recording each incident could also help convince the court to prohibit the abuser from weaponizing the technology.

It’s recommended that everyone in the home should know how their smart home system works and has access to any apps and passwords. While this form of harassment can still occur, this may deter the abuser from weaponizing the system.

No one should feel like a prisoner in their own home. Calling 9-1-1 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline can provide resources for someone in an abusive situation.

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The Merrell Law Firm, LLC 101 Riverchase Parkway East Hoover, AL 35244 Phone: 205-874-9697 Fax: 205-453-7184 Hoover Law Office Map

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