How might an abuser misuse cyber-surveillance?
An abuser could misuse connected devices to monitor, harass, isolate and otherwise harm you. Connected devices and cyber-surveillance technology can track who is in your home and what they are doing. Devices that allow you to use cyber-surveillance are typically connected to the Internet or another data network, so an abuser could hack into these system (with a computer or other technology connected to the network) and control your devices or information. An abuser who uses your technology to track your actions may do so secretly, or more obviously as a way to control your behavior. An abuser may use cyber-surveillance technology to:
- take pictures or video of you;
- keep logs of your activity (that can be gained from a fitness tracker or your car’s GPS and reveal if you left the home to seek court protection, for example);
- eavesdrop on you; and
- gain access to your email or other accounts linked to the connected devices.
An abuser could also misuse technology that allows you to control your home in a way that causes you distress. The abuser could harass you by turning lights and appliances on or off in your home, adjusting the temperature to uncomfortable levels, playing unwanted music or adjusting the volume, triggering home invasion and smoke alarms, and locking or unlocking doors. Such behavior could make you feel uncomfortable, scared, out of control of your surroundings, or make you feel confused or unstable.
Additionally, an abuser could misuse technology that controls your home to isolate you from others by threatening visitors and blocking physical access. For example, an abuser could remotely control the smart locks on your home, limiting your ability to leave the house or to return to it. A video doorbell could be used not only to monitor who comes to the door, but to harass them remotely or, in combination with a smart lock, prevent them from entering the house. You can also see a short video on this topic.
Finally, abusers could even do more dangerous things when a car is connected and able to be controlled through the Internet. For example, many newer cars have small computers installed in them that allow someone to control many of the cars features remotely, such as heated seats, emergency braking, or remote steering technology. An abuser could hack into the car’s system and gain access to this computer to control the speed or brakes of your car, putting you in serious danger.
Note: Without access to your passwords, gaining control over your connected devices may require a more advanced level of knowledge about technology than most people have. However, other information could be easier for a non-tech-savvy abuser to access. When devices are connected through a data network or the Internet, for example, an abuser may be able to log into (or hack into) that system to get information about how those devices were used, such as when you come and go from your home or where you drive your car.