How smart devices are exploited for domestic abuse

By Shiroma Silva & Talia Franco
BBC Click

Publishedduration17 October

The number of domestic abuse cases has increased dramatically since the UK's Covid lockdown – and tech has played a role.

Smart speakers, tracking apps and key-logging software are among products that have made it easier for perpetrators to maintain control of victims and continue abuse.

Domestic-violence charity Refuge says more than 70% of those it provides support to have reported tech-related abuse within a relationship.

Two people who experienced abuse during the pandemic shared their stories with BBC Click.

They asked to remain anonymous for their own safety.

"When he left the house, that's when I started to see that he was using the Ring doorbell camera to track me," says Kate, who is using a pseudonym. She is referring to Amazon's internet-connected security device. It triggers alerts when it detects motion in front of a home and allows live footage or recordings to be watched from afar.

"I could take the battery out of it if I wanted to, but I didn't feel like I could because he would say to me, 'You're compromising our children's safety'.

"I was worried that he would go to the police and try and suggest that I'm a bad mother."

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