Smart Devices Are Snitching On Owners And Rewriting The Criminal Justice System

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Top Tier Gear USA

smart devices

A new type of court case is slowly but steadily emerging within the American legal system: alleged crimes being detected from data supplied by smart devices.

Several cases over the last few years have focused on data transmitted within the modern smart home, while a couple of others add an extra dimension of police completely reconstructing a crime scene based upon data collected from the home as well as the various Internet-connected devices that we wear.

The very nature of the 1st, 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution appears to be at stake.

In December of last year an Arkansas murder case made headlines not so much for the death itself, but how a suspect was brought into custody. James Bates hosted a party at his Bentonville home on the night of November 21st, 2015. At some point during the event a man drowned in a hot tub on the property. Bates claimed to have found the victim the next morning when he awoke, stating that it was a tragic accident, but Arkansas police obtained smart water meter readings that showed an anomaly between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Based solely on this data – and obtained without a warrant – Bates was arrested and charged with 1st degree murder.

Somewhat ironically, James Bates subsequently requested recordings from his Amazon Echo to defend himself against these charges, which resulted in Amazon waiving their standard privacy conditions.

A second case followed wherein we saw a police narrative emerge that a crime had been prevented by a home’s smart system. A domestic dispute resulted in Eduardo Barros allegedly wielding a firearm against his girlfriend and threatening to kill her. However, during the argument he exclaimed, “Did you call the sheriffs?” This activated a voice-controlled sound system in his home and dialed 911. After an hours-long standoff, the suspect was taken into custody and charged. Law enforcement was quick to hail the smart technology as having “saved a life.”  But it was the presiding judge who shook privacy advocates by accepting the evidence regardless of how it was obtained, saying that there was indeed probable cause for the arrest without a warrant.

But it is the bizarre case of Richard Dabate, as recounted in the Chicago Tribune that offers up new complexities in the argument about how far police should be able to go in obtaining information and using it to investigate crimes.

Two days before Christmas, 2015, Connecticut police received a distress call from a man who claimed that an intruder killed his wife and tortured him. He was found in the home’s basement tied to a chair and bleeding. Richard told an apparently detailed story of the events that led up to the break-in, which included recounting how his smartphone alerted him to the intrusion while driving to work. He stated that he sent an e-mail to his company and gave the time of his arrival home at around 8:45 a.m. He says he entered the home and confronted the intruder. Meanwhile, his wife returned from a morning exercise class. Richard claims that he told his wife to run, but she was pursued and shot by the intruder, upon which the man dragged Richard to the basement, tied him to a chair and tortured him. The details of how he managed to dial 911 after fending off the attacker were even more dramatic: “Richard said he crawled upstairs with the chair still attached, activated the panic alarm, called 911 and collapsed. The firefighter found him soon after.”

During the course of the investigation, police realized that Richard’s wife Connie was wearing a Fitbit – a wearable device with a feature that tracks how many steps a person takes while exercising or going about their daily activities. The numbers didn’t match according to Richard’s account of what had happened, differing by a wide margin. Nor did the records from Richard’s smart key, which show that his alarm was activated at 8:50 a.m., then turned off at 8:59 p.m – from his basement. His email, which he claimed was sent from the road, actually showed that he sent it from his home IP address. Richard was arrested and now awaits judgment after pleading not guilty.

The Tribune noted one additional case where even a man’s pacemaker snitched him out to police. He claimed that he woke up to his house on fire, but after police summoned records of his cardiac rhythm, he was found to have been awake at the time the blaze began. He was arrested and charged for arson and insurance fraud.

The cases thus far seem to highlight instances where justice very well could have been served upon the guilty. Is this a sign that the American justice system is being diligent with the cases it pursues? Or is the precedent being set to drastically widen the scope in the future, opening the door for false arrests based upon faulty digital readings and/or hacks?

Ninety-nine percent of crime will now have a digital component … We have these little sensors all over. We’re wearing them and they’re in our homes. — Jonathan Rajewski, a digital forensics instructor at Champlain College in Vermont. (Source)

It will definitely be something in five or 10 years, in every case, we will look to see if this information is available —  Virginia State Police Special Agent Robert Brown III of the High Technology Division. (Source)

 

Nicholas West writes for ActivistPost.com. He also writes for Counter Markets agorist newsletter. Follow us at Twitter and Steemit.

This article may be freely republished in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

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Contributed by Nicholas West of www.activistpost.com.

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  • Todd Burgess

    Do we really need any more reasons to not have these devices?
    April 1, 2017 my Kindle told me that I now have Alexa. I said, OH HELL NO!!
    Bitch is de-activated, microphone, speakers and front camera are taped over with electrical tape and I’m still ready to toss that damn thing. It arrived as the improved audible book voice. I don’t want it and won’t have it. Yet i still feel violated, every day by it’s presence, just in the shadows, ready to be activated by the errant swipe, the unintended click, the poison that hides and then rats you out to the cops, even if you didn’t do anything. In the headlines soon:
    “Your Honor, I charge the Alexa thingy with killing my dog.” Howz dat sez da judge? “It dialed 911 on account of me watching Jurassic Park, what with all the screaming on the surround sound. The cops showed up, shot my dog, busted down my front door and set my curtains on fire with flash bangs. When they saw I was alone, they left, but my dog was still dead and my curtains are still burnt and my front door gone.”

    • These devices aren’t any different from the first digital cellphones.

  • darkhorse

    off topic: I just heard on the news that the boy scouts will b e taking girls in… so folks, this is your ZIONIST SUPREMACIST AGENDA at work before your very eyes…first they let homosexual boys into the scouts…now girls. Any gender can use the men’s or women’s room anywhere (bet it’s forbidden in ISRAHEL..wanna bet??). The AGENDA is getting rid of the sexes — they want just one (for us, not them). So, the girls are boys and the boys are girls … and THEY DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ SEPARATE BATHROOMS…GOT IT??

  • You decide your own level of involvement, Bringing a spy device into your private life is just one level of your involvement, Paying for the stupid thing is another.

    • It doesn’t matter who paid for it, it functions in the same way regardless.

    • Rift

      Not really because it’s not just your devices you have to worry about, it’s also your friends, work colleagues, and family. As long as you spend any time around other people with these devices there spying on you too.

      • But it’s not your fault is it? your responsibility is to your devices, the world is filled with these devices(cellphones) and every single one is just as bad as an Alexa or what not…. this sort of underhanded invasion of the digital kind is going to do things most are not willing to accept, those things are mostly here to be seen….. and those that see can easily fathom the texture of the coming WiFi War.

    • FollowDaMoney

      There are control measures that one should take to control these devices. Key is to having a firewall and a WiFi that you can manage. This takes some serious study to learn the ins and outs of securing your network.

      • The design of the device pulls down your pants regardless of it’s settings, that’s the whole point to it.

        • Sounds like you need a belt or suspenders if you want to keep the device.

  • FGD135

    GAZA

  • James Wood

    Do you feel that these recordings of events by smart devices can be both manipulated or planted by either police or others against you who may have that kind of technical expertise? This would raise the question in the case of Richard Dabate that the fact that a message is sent from either your cell or laptop might be easily manipulated, switched if you will.

    • You host the device, which is controlled by the network, which can be controlled by authorities.

  • Kendoaz

    I think we should get the Connecticut Police to go to Las vegas to find out what really happened there, as it looks like they are pretty savy.

  • SP_88

    People are suddenly worried about smart tv’s that spy on us and things like Alexa and Siri and Echo that can listen and respond to our voices. And with good reason.
    But we have been carrying around cellphones with cameras and microphones for years that can “hear and see” everything around them. And the time to be concerned was long ago.
    By now there is a whole network of people using these devices to spy on us and collect information. Plus, there is tons of data being saved that records everything we do. The number of people saving our data has grown exponentially along with the ways in which our data is collected.
    Right now there is enough data floating around to paint a pretty clear picture of everything we’ve been saying and doing as well as where we’ve gone and how long we were there, and any purchases we made, etc, etc.
    Imagine what it will be like in ten years or twenty years. Digital surveillance will be much more thorough. And I’m willing to bet that much of it will be through electronic devices that we went out and bought.

  • If it has a CPU,memory,microwave radio you have no idea what is going on with that device for sure. Code comes Code goes, your not the traffic cop for that flow the device and it’s controllers are. Your trust of these computers that are being put into a vast array of things is going to be your downfall if you ignore the danger.