By B.N. Frank
It’s hard to blame anyone for wanting physical keys. A recent Google outage temporarily locked some folks out of their homes. Of course, there are also privacy concerns about data collection from all “Smart” devices, as well as hacking.
In a settlement released Tuesday, a judge ordered landlords of an apartment building in New York to provide physical keys to any tenants who don’t want to use the Latch smart locks installed on the building last September.
The settlement is a first, as there’s no legal precedent or legislation deciding how landlords can use smart home technology. Since the technology is relatively new, lawmakers haven’t had time to catch up with smart home devices, and this case in New York is one of the few legal challenges to appear in court. It won’t set a legal precedent because it’s a settlement, but it represents a win for tenants who had issues with smart locks and landlords installing them against their will.
“This is a huge victory for these tenants and tenants throughout New York City. These types of systems, which landlords have used to surveil, track and intimidate tenants, have been used frequently in New York City,” Michael Kozek, the attorney representing the tenants in Manhattan, said in a statement. “These tenants refused to accept the system, and the negative impact it had on their lives. Hopefully they will be an inspiration for other tenants to fight back.”
Mary Beth McKenzie, her husband, Tony Mysak, and a group of tenants sued their landlords after the landlords installed the smart locks last year, arguing that there were privacy concerns with the Latch smart lock and the app required to get into their own building.
Latch’s smart locks are installed in more than 1,000 buildings in New York, and this case’s settlement could mean future challenges from tenants who also have privacy and security concerns.
The settlement also stated physical keys were a “required service” for the landlords, and that any smart entry system in the future wasn’t considered a required service.
“Smart” devices – including utility “Smart” Meters – shouldn’t be forced on anyone’s home for a variety of reasons, including fires and explosions (see 1, 2). Although there may not have been any reports of smart locks causing fires YET, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen eventually.
For more information on how “Smart” devices and infrastructure aren’t desirable, visit the following websites:
- Americans for Responsible Technology
- Center For Safer Wireless
- Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
- EMF Safety Network
- Environmental Health Trust
- Physicians for Safe Technology
- Smart Grid Awareness
- Take Back Your Power
- Wireless Information Network
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