Smart devices

Alexa And Fitbit Can Rat You Out In Court

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The very things you’ve come to rely on like close friends could betray you in an instant. Smart devices, that monitor vital functions, and digital assistants are starting to become regular “witnesses” in court. There are still moral and law issues to tweak but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that authorities will use everything at their disposal to get to the truth.

In one case, a Fitbit tracker revealed discrepancies in the victim’s spouse statement. Richard Dabate told the police a masked intruder had killed his wife and tortured him but the details he provided didn’t match the raw, Fitbit data. The tracker showed the victim had walked 1,217 feet after getting home, while Richard had claimed she ran about 125 feet to the basement. More importantly, Fitbit revealed that the woman had been active up until 10 a.m., while the suspect told authorities she was dead one hour earlier.

Another victim’s Apple Watch was “a foundational piece of evidence” when it came to figuring out the killer, her own daughter-in-law.

It’s not just wearables that can rat out their owners. Digital assistants will do that, too. In James Bates’ case, Alexa provided reasonable doubt, convincing the judge to dismiss the murder charge. Bates had been accused of killing his best friend, until authorities had the chance to listen to Alexa’s recordings from an Echo device. The captured audio (including a fraction of a second before someone calls the assistant) was enough to clear Bates.

As useful as these smart devices are in a case, there’s still talk about whether they are infringing the Fifth Amendment. Some would argue that using an accused’ own medical data, for example, is a form of self-incrimination, which the law protects against…

What are your thoughts on this matter? We’d love to know! 

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