With smart home devices, you can step into the future — a concept sold by big technology companies relentlessly to make our homes more “futuristic” and instill dependency upon their smart devices. But now, the previously talked dangers of the smart home are coming to life one by one, turning enthusiastic fans into a skeptic.
Muneerah Bhudwani, who works at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, said that a lot of calls she received from domestic abuse victims were about smart home devices being used to abuse and terrify them. People said they felt like they were going crazy.
In more than 30 interviews conducted by New York Times, a new pattern of domestic abuse has arrived on the surface. Victims, lawyers, shelters workers and emergency responders describe unusual accounts of abuse — how technology has gotten hold of their life.
They mention how abusers used smart home devices, remotely controlled thermostat, doorbells, security cameras and even door locks to intimidate their partners. These offenders used smartphone apps to control internet enabled smart devices. Thus, remotely accessing these devices, listening to private conversations and sometimes even watching victims on the video feed without their knowledge.
These abusers not only spied on their partners but also frequently changed settings of these devices like bursts of dark music, changing the light colors, putting random codes to smart locks, changing the temperature of thermostats, and other acts of showing dominance.
Of course, smart devices users can reset or completely turn off these devices. But the situation is not as simple as it looks; most of the times, only one person is aware of the usage of smart home devices in a relationship. And the only possible way to stop the abuse is to remove the hardware from the premises entirely.
People can fight back by getting more informed about the used technology. But the makers of these devices say that reset buttons or changing Wi-Fi password are not the ultimate solutions. Having dual accounts on these devices make it more prone to security risks and criminal hijackings.