The New York Times has an interesting (and horrifying) story about how domestic abusers are using the latest home gadgets to inflict new kinds of abuse on their victims. The Times conducted more than 30 interviews with victims, lawyers, and shelter workers who highlighted some of the ways home tech is being used for terror:
- abusers use smart thermostats to jack up the heat in a house to 100 degrees
- or blast loud music out of smart speakers
- others remotely shut off lights–or turn them on at odd hours
- still others use smart home cameras to spy on their victims
And domestic abuse via smart home gadgets affect women more than men, as the Times notes:
Emergency responders said many victims of smart home-enabled abuse were women. Connected home gadgets are largely installed by men, said Melissa Gregg, a research director at Intel working on the implications of smart home technology. Many women also do not have all the apps on their phones, said Jenny Kennedy, a postdoctoral research fellow at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, who is researching families that install smart home technology.
Often times, victims will try to counteract the remote abuse by disconnection all the smart devices in their home, but Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says: “They’re not sure how their abuser is getting in and they’re not necessarily able to figure it out because they don’t know how the systems work. What they do is they just turn everything off, and that just further isolates them.”