Smart Devices Are Snitching on Owners and Rewriting the Criminal Justice System

By Nicholas West

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 sherrifs?” 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 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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10 Comments on "Smart Devices Are Snitching on Owners and Rewriting the Criminal Justice System"

  1. Grace by Faith | October 10, 2017 at 11:29 am | Reply

    “The very nature of the 1st, 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution appears to be at stake.” Sorry, but we are not protected by any amendments of any constitution and never have been. It’s all been one big, fat LIE. We need to expose these truths, and quickly.

    We cannot use the US Constitution to defend ourselves because we are not a party to it. “No private person has a right to complain by suit in court on the ground of a breach of the United States constitution; for, though the constitution is a compact, he is not a party to it.” Padelford Fay & Co v. The Mayor and Alderman of the City of Savannah 14, Georgia 438, 520.

    “The People” does not include you and me. Barron v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore 32 US 243.

    • Yep, according to the legal dictionaries “We the People” refers to people put in positions of power over the ‘lower case people’ like a mayor, governor, council members, military district governors, etc.

    • As I’m fond of asking, does the American constitution allow all the many ways it has been trampled on and ignored, or has it proven to be useless at preventing them? Pick your favorite answer? Then understand the stance of libertarians, who reject the very idea.

  2. JimmyGotHisKornCracked | October 11, 2017 at 3:04 am | Reply

    The aims of today’s technology is to limit the human mind in attempt to pacify the person into a deep slumber. Where one is unconscious to the effects of their daily acts, words, and thoughts. From there the mind, or shall I say the absence of mind, becomes highly receptive to suggestion.

    The technology isn’t to suveil you, although, it is an added benefit. It is to control you. They say they are making it easier for you to survive by removing the hard labors, or whatever lie works for the occasion. In fact they are taking you out of the equation, and using the shell you leave behind for whatever purposes necessary.

    Meanwhile the materials needed to build this crap, is destroying the ability for humans to live freely. What sustains you for what entertains you. What nourishes you for what posions you. All the While they make you believe that you are providing for yourself, serving your country, bettering the lives of your countrymen. In actuality, the governments are just killing and enslaving humans to produce all the bullshit to which we’ve become accustomed.

    Mankind slumbers so every evil is afoot.

  3. I don’t understand the first one. What anomalie ?

    • If I remember right it showed the water being turned on, then off while he claimed he was sleeping, dead guy can’t turn it off.

      • Thanks for clearing that up.

      • Did it ever occur to them that a third party may have operated the faucet ? If person #1 was unconscious but soon to be drowned, and person #2 was asleep, isn’t it possible that a third person was involved ?

        • Rev. Walking Turtle | October 11, 2017 at 5:26 pm | Reply

          Reasonable doubt, in this Old Injun’s considered opinion from a distance. Now have we any security cam footage of the area in question to refer to and possibly authenticate that theory?

          Fact: NOTHING wrong with ANY genuine theory. Only the Vested Top-Down Interests embedded within the ownership and management of the US Lamestream Media would have the rest of Us believe that ALL theories are evil. (Now SUBMIT. Now PAY.)

          Instead: Now let’s separate ALL the lies from the Rest of Creation and send ’em packing, once and for all under Heaven, sha’n’t we? And that is all. 0{:-|o[

  4. Grace…We aren’t protected because our country has been highjacked by corporate elitists! America is ruled by the Uniform Commercial Code (which is the law for how corporations deal with one another. YES…that means YOU are designated as a corporation if you have a social security # and /or a birth certificate. Go to youtube and watch “Exiting Babylon” if you want to learn how to free yourself and your family. WE DO NOT LIVE UNDER CONSTITUTIONAL LAW…That law is for people.

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