In the beginning, there was the smartphone. And it was good. Then there was the smart TV – all those streaming services and Internet access just a remote click away. What could be better?

But now we’re in the midst of a “smart” revolution, with that label attached to everything from audio speakers to refrigerators to heating and cooling systems. What could go wrong?

With the current debate over artificial intelligence and what may happen if machines gain control over too much of our lives, it’s a fair question to ask. But there is already a clear and present danger to smart tech that has gone largely unreported and impacts some of the most vulnerable people in our society – victims of stalking, harassment, and domestic violence.

What's the Danger?

Smart tech recognizes who gets to program it and tells it what to do through user accounts and WiFi passwords. That’s the kind of data couples share when they live together. After a contentious separation, a vindictive ex can still access those passwords, or change them without the other person’s knowledge. What happens next? Perhaps the air conditioning stops when it’s 100 degrees outside. Or a smartwatch will let him know when the house is empty. Even speakers can be manipulated to listen in on conversations from another location.

Refuge, an organization that works with domestic violence victims, reports that between 2018 and 2022, the number of incidents where smart tech was used to harm or intimidate increased by more than 250%. And as more households add these devices, that number may continue to rise.

What Can be Done?

Some help is on the way courtesy of the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) Act, which enhances security on new smart devices and includes bans on default passwords But it can do nothing about the millions of devices already out there, many of which no longer receive regular security updates.

There is a better solution – purchase equipment that is not supported by smart technology. It may make some actions less convenient, but it guarantees that nothing in your home can be used against you.

Are You a Stalking/Domestic Violence Victim?

Many women who find themselves in these desperate situations change their address. But that new address can likely be found online with a quick search. IronWall360 online privacy protection can remove your home address from the Internet.

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Ron Zayas


Ron Zayas is an online privacy expert, speaker, author, and CEO of 360Civic, a provider of online protection to law enforcement, judicial officers, and social workers. For more insight into onli... Read more

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