There’s a dark side to smart devices. Between TVs, lights, locks, and thermostats, it seems like everything today connects to the internet. But unfortunately, those devices are also being misused by domestic abusers to control and manipulate their victims.
Ways that abusers are able to manipulate and attack their victims include turning up their smart-controlled thermostat to make their monthly bills more expensive, or blasting music through their sound system so that it’s difficult for them to sleep, as was the case with domestic abuse survivor Ferial Nijem.
Perpetrators are also installing spyware on victims’ smartphones to eavesdrop on conversations or using apps to track their whereabouts.
So what can you do if you find yourself in a difficult situation? Safety Net Project’s Erica Olsen urges victims to understand the apps and smart devices as they pertain to their lives, and adjust the privacy setting accordingly. They should also document strange patterns or behaviors, as documentation usually helps law enforcement narrow down the tech from being misused. You might also want to reach out to the maker of the product to see how you can enhance your privacy and security. You can request information on who has access to your account or ask them to set up a system that only allows you to make changes.