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Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

Can Your Smart Home Be Used Against You in Court?

Smart phones are old news. Just about everyone—including your 12-year-old—has an iPhone or an Android phone. These devices have revolutionized the way we communicate with each other. Now, many homeowners are exploring their ‘smart home’ options. Amazon’s Echo or the Google Home are popular devices. Amazon Echo works through voice commands. Users can ask about the weather, make purchases, or even control their thermostats and garage doors with the devices. Google Home is a similar device that, in addition to having many of the Echo’s features, also offers users the ability to find the closest stores with a specific item.

These devices no doubt make our lives more convenient. But, how will they affect our legal claims?

Are Smart Home Devices an Invasion of Privacy?

In November of 2015, a body was discovered in a hot tub. The resident of the home, James Bates, told law enforcement officers that he’d discovered the lifeless body of Victor Collins that morning. Bates claimed that he’d gone to bed at about 1:00 a.m., and that Collins and another buddy stayed up drinking.

Bates was a suspect, and law enforcement wanted to recover data from the Amazon Echo in Bates’ home. Amazon argued that turning over the data would be a violation of the First Amendment; however, Bates ultimately agreed to provide the data from the Echo to the police, unsure as to what the Echo may have actually recorded. The case is still ongoing.

The “home assistants” work by “listening” for command words at all times. Do users truly know what may be recorded? How are our expectations of privacy, which are protected by the Constitution, impacted by our use of these items? Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union commented, “As a legal matter, it’s unresolved, which is part of what worries us about the whole thing. I think most people don’t expect that snippets of their conversation might actually get picked up. [Smart assistants] do hear trigger words when trigger words are not intended.” Some have even compared the devices to ongoing surveillance.

Know Your Rights

With new technology comes new ways of handling legal claims and evidence. At the Law Office Cohen & Jaffe, LLP our attorneys are knowledgeable about the latest technology and its impacts on cases both inside and outside of the courtroom.

In addition, at the Law Firm of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, our personal injury attorneys carefully study all evidence in a case to determine if it was properly obtained and whether it should be admissible in court. Our attorneys know how to obtain all types of evidence, including evidence that depends on new technology. With our attorneys, you will rest assured that your strongest claims or defenses are being presented in the most effective manner possible.

Call the Accident Attorneys at the Law Office Of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP Today

The attorneys at Cohen & Jaffe, LLP handle personal injury, medical malpractice, and employment law matters throughout Long Island. To discuss your claim, including the nature of evidence that may be submitted, call 516-358-6900 or contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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