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Smart Locks Violate Tenants’ Privacy and Provide Valuable Information to Police

by Jordan Arizmendi

People are often blindly attracted to the latest form of technology. As long as the contraption makes our lives easier, any invasion of privacy that it might entail is ignored. Smart locks are a perfect example of a seemingly innocent device that makes our lives easier but is also more frequently being used to entrap and falsely imprison.

According to a 2021 Vantage Market Research Report, more than 12 million households had installed a smart lock. Many of these locks were installed without the tenants’ permission. While a smart lock provides a tenant with the slight convenience of not having to carry around a key, the list of disadvantages is long and often not even well understood.

Using a smart lock gives law enforcement an effortless tool to incriminate people. For example, smart locks give police a crystal-clear insight into when an individual is in their apartment and when they leave. In addition, smart locks with cameras can tell law enforcement who is traversing through a property and when – although one’s residence is considered a constitutionally protected space under the Fourth Amendment.

The data stored on a smart lock comes with a hefty price tag, giving private companies the ability to cash in on your private information. Smart locks reveal details about an individual and their family that a marketing companies find invaluable.

Without proper regulation, smart locks will continue to be an indispensable law enforcement aid as well as a cash cow for private companies often working in conjunction with the police. At a minimum, properties must provide the option to tenants to choose between a smart lock and a physical key. A 2019 New York City settlement ordered landlords of a building to provide just such an option.

Since smart technology is relatively new, so there is little regulation governing it. As of now, smart locks are kind of like the Wild West, a few dominant corporate and legislative entities are using these devices at the public’s expense. In addition to the option for a traditional lock, laws regulating both landlords and private companies from accessing one’s smart lock information without permission as well as prohibiting such entities from disclosing smart lock information to law enforcement are desperately needed.


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