Surveillance

The era of ‘sensorveillance’: Law enforcement could use smart devices in our homes to monitor our every move, legal expert warns

The Daily Mail

Smarthomes and internet connected devices could be used by law enforcement to monitor our homes without a warrant, a legal expert has warned.

Gadgets ranging from fitness trackers to baby monitors are leading to what he has been dubbed the era of ‘sensorveillance’.

If nothing is done, we may have to get used to the idea of our privacy being invaded without warning – and nearly constant surveillance of our behaviour.

Andrew Ferguson, a University of the District of Columbia law professor, says a case currently before the US Supreme Court could be key in determining how exposed smart-device data is to searches by law enforcement there.

Timothy Carpenter was convicted of a robbery in Detroit on the basis of location data sent out automatically by his smartphone, without police applying for a warrant to obtain these records.

Professor Ferguson is concerned that a ruling on the Carpenter case could authorise authorities to pressure firm’s into supplying data stored on their servers from smart devices without oversight from a judge.

With the rapid spread of the Internet of Things – devices or sensors that connect, communicate or transmit information over the web – this is sure to become a privacy issue across the globe.

Business research company Gartner estimates 8.4 billion devices were connected to the internet in 2017, according to reports in the Washington Post.

That is a 31 per cent increase over the previous year and, by 2020, the company believes there will be around three smart devices for every person on the planet.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Professor Ferguson said: ‘Americans are just waking up to the fact that their smart devices are going to snitch on them.

‘And that they are going to reveal intimate details about their lives they did not intend law enforcement to have.

Andrew Ferguson, a University of the District of Columbia law professor, is concerned about police having access to our personal devices without needing a warrant. In one murder trail currently before US courts, data from a Fitbit has been used to establish a timeline of events.

FITBIT EVIDENCE

In a case currently before courts in the US, Richard Dabate’s timeframe of the killing of his wife was called into question after her Fitbit revealed she was still moving after he claimed she was dead.

Connecticut State Police allege Mr Dabate killed 39-year-old Connie Dabate at their home two days before Christmas in 2015, while their two young sons were in school.

Mr Dabate claimed a man who sounded like Vin Diesel had broke into his house, tied him up and shot dead his wife Connie, before he burned the intruder with a torch.

The records on Mrs Dabate’s FitBit showed she had been moving more than an hour after Mr Dabate claimed she had been murdered.

‘In a world of truly ubiquitous connectivity where we are recording our heartbeat, our steps, our location, if all of that data is now available to law enforcement without a warrant, that is a big change.

‘And that’s a big invasion of what most of us think our privacy should include.’

In another case currently before courts in the US, Richard Dabate’s timeframe of the killing of his wife was called into question after her Fitbit revealed she was still moving after he claimed she was dead.

Connecticut State Police allege Mr Dabate killed 39-year-old Connie Dabate at their home two days before Christmas in 2015, while their two young sons were in school.

Mr Dabate claimed a man who sounded like Vin Diesel had broke into his house, tied him up and shot dead his wife Connie, before he burned the intruder with a torch.

The records on Mrs Dabate’s FitBit showed she had been moving more than an hour after Mr Dabate claimed she had been murdered.

Image: Smarthomes and internet connected devices could be used by law enforcement to monitor our homes, a legal expert has warned. Gadgets ranging from fitness trackers to baby monitors are leading to what he has been dubbed the era of ‘sensorveillance’

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