All the data you can eat
Umbilical Ruminations

Smart tech cited in 70% of UK domestic abuse cases

Adam Oxford
Adam Oxford
2020-10-23

Remember how those crazy privacy nuts used to try and warn us that smart devices are the tool of surveillance capital and inviting Alexa or Google Home into your house meant giving up your private space to The Man. Turns out that it’s not just The Man abusing this power, it’s the lower case one too. The BBC reports that smart tech is cited in 70% of cases picked up by UK domestic violence charity Refuge. As the article points out, it’s the male partner who sets up the smart speaker, or configures the Find My Phone app, so when Loving Husband(TM) turns into Mr Paranoid and Dangerous, he has all the ability of a state agent to track his “partner”.

As one interviewee puts it, “”I just realised how little control I had over mine and the kids’ life and how much he had. I had to get out.”

If turning on the smart doorbell or kiddie cam to keep tabs on a woman’s private combinations isn’t enough, it’s about to get much worse. The (other) EFF is raising concerns this week about Facebook’s Project Aria. Aria is a pair of smart glasses for overlaying AR onto the world, which revisits Google Glass territory, except that they’re even hungrier for data and are designed to record everything for the purposes of helping Facebook map the way to the nearest shop. Won’t that be a fun tool for tech-savvy abusers to exploit?

What’s concerning, down here at the bottom of the world, is that the debate remains “A First World Problem”, of interest to a few wonkish types and academics. But the devices are here and the well documented scale of gender-based violence is getting worse, not better. It behooves those of us who can to sound the alarm.

(Image – Mac Observer)

Adam Oxford
  • Adam Oxford is a freelance journalist, media consultant and civic tech enthusiast. He also works closely with startups developing solutions to access to justice problems.

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