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How Domestic Abusers are Using Smart Home Tech to Cause Harm

Smart home devices have given many Americans their first dip into the technology of the future we once thought was only going to happen in sci-fi stories. Today, you can have your Amazon Echo device order you pizza, you can have your thermostat adjust itself based on how many people are home, and you can even lock and unlock your front door from your smartphone. While all of these devices are clearly awesome and innovative in theory, they are proving to be problematic in practice when domestic abusers get their hands on them. Attorney Gordon Cruse of Gordon D. Cruse, APLC discussed this issue in an American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers™ (AAML) publication*, and it is definitely something we feel is important to go over again.

Domestic Abusers & Smart Tech Should Not Mix

A domestic abuser will go to unreasonable lengths to try to make the lives of their spouses or partners, usually exes, miserable. In fact, domestic violence is not defined only as physical harm, but it can also be constituted by deliberate acts to cause emotional harm and unrest. This is where smart home tech enters the picture and starts causing problems.

There have been cases across the country of domestic abusers using smart home tech to their devious advantage during and after a divorce. For example, a jaded spouse could use their smartphone to shut off the refrigerator in the middle of the day, causing all the food inside to spoil and rot. Or, imagine if you were trying to sleep but your ex-spouse kept switching on the heater to full blast so you wake up sweating? Maybe your smart water heater is cranked way down without your knowledge, so each night you get a frigid shower?

With remote access to key systems and appliances throughout the home, the limitations of how to abuse those bits of smart tech is really up to the imagination of the domestic abuser.

Be Smarter Than Your Tech & Abuser

To bring an end to a domestic abuser tinkering with smart tech in your home, the first thing you should do is change all the passwords you can for all your smart home devices. We are talking about door locks, thermostats, electrical sockets, speakers, cameras — the whole kit and caboodle. Next, make certain all your phones, tablets, and computers are able to access and keep track of those devices remotely. Lastly, you should upgrade your router’s passwords, or even ask your internet service provider if you can switch out the router-modem for a new one. This last step can effectively block your ex-spouse from getting into any smart home tech tethered to your home’s network because the foundation of that network will be different than before.

Stopping domestic abuse enabled through smart tech might not be enough, though. It may be worth your while to bring it to the attention of a court. Access the user files and data of your smart devices and download copies of those records. You can usually do this using the apps associated with the smart tech, but it might also be possible to get a copy from a device’s internal memory. If the records show tampering being done to your devices in the dead of night, for example, then it can probably be concluded that a jaded and abusive ex did it to pester you.

We Provide Moral & Legal Support

Weis Law Group is led by Attorney Amy Weis, a Certified Specialist in Family Relationship Law. Under her guidance and experience, we are here to help people in Columbus get through difficult divorces and protect themselves from abusive spouses. If your spouse or ex-spouse has been messing with your smart home tech to persistently cause you frustration and emotional harm, let our team know. Available evidence of their wrongdoing could become your advantage in your divorce or legal separation.

Call us at (614) 428-0266 to get more information about your rights and legal options during an initial consultation.

(* You can view his full article in the AAML library files by clicking here.)