Your technology may betray you
A CONNECTICUT MAN’S claim that his wife was murdered by an intruder has been challenged by detectives due to his wife’s Fitbit. It recorded her moving about the house an hour after her supposed death. An Arkansas man’s murder of a friend was caught out by his Amazon Echo, which captured accidental recordings, and by his water meter, which recorded his attempts to wash away blood in the early hours. And an Ohio man’s attempted insurance fraud was uncovered by data on his pacemaker, which showed he wasn’t asleep when he claimed his house “accidentally” caught fire.
All recent examples of how technology can catch us out. As the IoT expands, we are being monitored and recorded on an unprecedented scale, our cells, watches, and cars all track and record. A new breed of detective is being born, one who sifts through our digital footprint for clues. Often, it’s not that difficult either—a surprising number of people research their intended crimes on Google, for instance, or use their satnav to make journeys they later deny.
In our everyday lives, we leave a considerable digital trail. And who owns that, and how much privacy over it we have, has yet to be clarified. Initially, Amazon refused to hand over data to investigators in the Arkansas case, claiming it was protected under the First Amendment. The suspect volunteered the data, presumably thinking it wouldn’t be incriminating, which avoided a stand-off. The law has a lot of catching up to do. Until then, companies such as Apple and Amazon will set their own policies on what they will hand over and to whom.
The power and convenience of technology is marvelous, but as a price for that we often give away details of our private lives that we might hesitate to tell our neighbors. The surveillance is not being foisted upon us, we willingly buy it. How much of this collected data can be used against us is a debate to come. Meanwhile, detectives will be doing a lot more detecting from the desktop.