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Caring vs snooping - smartapp collects data from devices and sensors of another person's home

(65 Posts)
indieshuffle Thu 17-Jan-19 06:59:35

Hello all,

I have just checked my email and saw something that I wanted to run by you wise women.

Its from Carers UK telling me about a new product/service from Hive, by Centrica/ British Gas, where data about the carees home use and movements can be viewed remotely on a smartapp on the phone of another person.

Its not cameras, but is things like kettle being on, doors being open etc so involves sensors an smart devices. The blurb says it lets you know if the morning or night-time routine is being followed, but it is very vague on detail (always makes me suspicious)

I can see how in a utopian world that this might give carers some peace of mind if they cannot be there in person (my own gran is very elderly and vulnerable but wants to live alone still and of course we worry), but actually I find the premise a bit alarming given that much of society is largely so ignorant to safeguarding and coercion etc, and my immediate thought was of how this intrusive technology could also be mis-used.

The cared for person has to give consent but how stringently would that be policed? What if there is coercion, or a level of confusion. How would the British Gas engineer know to recognise that or be qualified to know when to refuse to accept a person's consent. Will they be given training? Or will it just need a signature with no consent required in person? The devices could be given as gifts with the recipient knowing what they features they have. I think things like this really ought to have the sign-off of a solicitor to prove the caree has been given independent legal advice.

Its too early for me to call to check what safeguard they have, but even so, safeguarding well how knows what that means nowadays.

What if a determined man wants to spy on his wife/ex and finds a way to get it installed without her knowledge or understanding? When Hive/British Gas have a financial incentive to sign people up and install, and who knows even quotas, are they really going to be independent and circumspect?

I don't know. The whole thing just makes me uneasy. Personally we are refusing a smart meter but as renters we may have no choice of we move house and one is already installed, but also we wont have smart devices on TVs or kettles etc.

Never mind the issue of giving data to Centrica/British Gas. Plus the government now has so much more access to our personal information since that bill was passed so may have access to snoop on our smart devices etc. I know some would write me off as a tin hatter but with this TRA stuff, I cannot ignore just how vulnerable we still are to new ideologies, lack of safeguarding and understanding of coercion and abuse of power etc, lack of critical thinking etc and I'm more cautious than ever.

I think in general, humans are not evolved enough to use this kind of technology responsibly, and I think women are particularly vulnerable to its mis-use.

Plus even limited to its legitimate use, it could get quite annoying for a person to be checked up on just because on morning they haven't put the kettle on yet and their relatives can see that they haven't but actually they are fine. It could actually be quite anxiety provoking in some respects.

I'm not liking this modern world much right now.

indieshuffle Thu 17-Jan-19 07:01:29

Obviously if it is limited to kettles and a door then its not so intrusive maybe, but its the give an inch take a mile/ foot in the door scenario that worries me.

indieshuffle Thu 17-Jan-19 07:28:05

links www.hivehome.com/services/connected-care-hive-link

bucketeer-e9a3f077-0ec6-47cc-a7da-226f8fd8c41c.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/public/img/attachments/Introducing-Hive-Link-ff090b268cb48497d012f314b81a07b68d1a1a05288cbc9cca80b45cbb23a41c.pdf

Apparently Carers UK have worked with Centrica to develop this and in return Cares UK expect to receive about £1million in funds from Centrica/ Centrica fundraising over the next 3 years.

Am not so keen on 'partnerships' like this even if they are the modern way. This smacks of promoting services (and data harvesting) to carers and carees in return for being a favoured charity.

Maybe I an just too too cynical.

SaskiaRembrandtWasFramed Thu 17-Jan-19 07:34:53

Our engineer will walk around your home and after asking a few questions will identify the best place to install 3 x Hive Plugs, 2 x Hive Motion Sensors, 2 x Hive Window or Door Sensors and the Hive Hub.

I think this makes it very unlikely that someone could have it installed without the householder noticing. Even if it was installed while they were out, surely they'd wonder where these sensors came from.

Also, it's actually a high tech version of systems that already exist.

SwimmingJustKeepSwimming Thu 17-Jan-19 07:37:16

Have you seen Humans?

Theres an episode where they use the technology to "care" for older people. Its scarily only a step from having those routines enforced on an older person...

indieshuffle Thu 17-Jan-19 07:47:23

No not seen past episode 1 of Humans but that is the kind of thing that it conjures up for me.

Also for benefit investigating - to evaluate someone's lifestyle against their claims. Very intrusive when rates of disability fraud is actually very low.

Sasksia but what if they were just told that it was just for security or an alarm and the person wasn't good with technology or had reduced eyesight? And the plugs are to monitor energy use. It relies totally on the fitting engineer to make sure that the person is made aware of what the product really is and can withdraw consent (then pay a cancellation charge maybe).

Shame that so much technology also can work against us very easily.

SaskiaRembrandtWasFramed Thu 17-Jan-19 08:02:05

I was commenting more on the idea of someone using it to spy on their ex-wife, in that instance it would be nigh on impossible to have it installed without the woman noticing.

It is more difficult with an elderly person. It does say in the small print of the pdf that the consent of the person having it installed is required, not sure how that would happen - if it involves someone from the company getting it, then there is a level of safeguarding because they would explain what it was.

Have you seen who commissions it? Current systems are installed in specific circumstances, usually by social services, housing associations, healthcare workers, etc.. I can't see if this would be the same.

I can see that it could be used for sinister purposes, so I'm hoping there are safeguards.

cordeliaflynne Thu 17-Jan-19 08:14:57

Perfect for a controlling partner who wants to monitor a stay-at-home wife's movements and activities during the working day...

indieshuffle Thu 17-Jan-19 08:21:29

Yes Saskia I see what you mean there. But then I just think of some of these bastards that can sweet talk or coerce. And the possible link up with other technologies or hacks bothers me. So much potential for creepiness sad

I think the carer requests it.

The lack of detail is part of what concerns me. Things that don't address the full pitfalls openly and up front tend to be a bit dodgy in my experience, glossing over and minimising etc. Or just not having a clue. All we get here is data protection, but hey you can trust us.

I will email Carers UK with my concerns and see what comes back. Thanks for reading smile

womanformallyknownaswoman Thu 17-Jan-19 08:25:27

IOT devices have no effective monitoring so they all can be weaponised easily

ChattyLion Thu 17-Jan-19 08:32:32

What could possibly go wrong...hmm

NothingOnTellyAgain Thu 17-Jan-19 08:35:14

Cordelia yes

Threehoursfromhome Thu 17-Jan-19 08:35:55

I am personally wary of smart devices because they add another layer of technology which can go wrong. However, in terms of snooping there's many other devices, like hidden cameras, on the market now which can be mis-used

Given these are cheaper, more invasive, and don't involve a third party company having to gain explicit consent, I think anyone wanting to snoop already has better options.

indieshuffle Thu 17-Jan-19 08:54:21

Yes Cordelia that's what I was thinking. She is already going to find it hard to say No isn't she.

Given these are cheaper, more invasive, and don't involve a third party company having to gain explicit consent, I think anyone wanting to snoop already has better options.

Oh well that's OK then!?? The other things come with the consequences for the hider if they are discovered. This is in plain sight. But yes to another layer of technology to break down.

Plus its the role of Carers UK in promoting this in return for money and preferential fundraising opportunities.

I looked up IoT womanformerly and yes exactly. Weaponised. Not happy with any of that stuff.

SaskiaRembrandtWasFramed Thu 17-Jan-19 09:01:59

I will email Carers UK with my concerns and see what comes back.

Do post to let us know what they say, I'd be interested to hear if/what safeguarding is in place.

Ereshkigal Thu 17-Jan-19 09:26:27

Yes I agree they need to be aware there is a safeguarding risk and have a process.

Ereshkigal Thu 17-Jan-19 09:27:34

There was a good thread here about the potential of domestic abuse via IOT.

R0wantrees Thu 17-Jan-19 09:40:11

But then I just think of some of these bastards that can sweet talk or coerce. And the possible link up with other technologies or hacks bothers me. So much potential for creepiness

picklemepopcorn Thu 17-Jan-19 09:49:41

I think the risk of abuse is outweighed by the help it offers. Abusers will abuse. They will find ways to do it without this tech.

We no longer live in a world where neighbours, the milkman, notice if someone disappears. I'd love to be able to check that DM has used a kettle, when I've not been able to get her on the phone for a couple of days. Then I can ring a neighbour and ask them to pop in and check all is well.

PerkingFaintly Thu 17-Jan-19 09:52:36

Ereshkigal, could you possibly link that thread, or help me find it?

It's an area I'm interested in generally.

I looked into dumber, less finely grained versions of this sort of monitoring a few years back for an elderly relative. That was just stuff like sending a text alert if a particular floor pad hadn't been stepped on for 24 hours or the like. We decided even that was going to be difficult to implement without being intrusive.

This bit about the Carers UK / Centrica device, "The blurb says it lets you know if the morning or night-time routine is being followed," makes this version sound like it collects much more data, and is much more intrusive.

PerkingFaintly Thu 17-Jan-19 09:58:23

actually I find the premise a bit alarming given that much of society is largely so ignorant to safeguarding and coercion etc

Agreed. Much of my experience researching and trying to discuss this has been that people completely dismiss any safeguarding element (and behave like you're mad to even think of it), because it's "in a good cause."

They simply don't want to think about unintended consequences. No matter how obvious.

scaevola Thu 17-Jan-19 10:07:43

An abuser wouid go for something like Nest, which is already widely available, rather than something like this.

The advantages of this system for carers are pretty obvious s add nothing for abusers that t already cheaply and widely available.

silentcrow Thu 17-Jan-19 10:16:42

The internet of things has always given me the horrors. Everything, from CCTV to a black box from the car insurance company, to webcams on your laptop, to the fridge monitoring your food and your Strava app tracking your run route live - every bit of it has the potential to be insecure. Not just from hackers, but from bloody stupid and careless coding, and decisions made by people who don't understand security and safeguarding. And there's a lot more of that about than malice. Factor in the general slant of totalitarianism governments or unscrupulous companies, and the dystopia writes itself.

Take Amazon's latest cock-up with Ring, for example: theintercept.com/2019/01/10/amazon-ring-security-camera/

Ereshkigal Thu 17-Jan-19 10:20:24

I'm not saying the service shouldn't exist, pickle. Just that they need to be aware of potential safeguarding issues and have a process.

PerkingFaintly Thu 17-Jan-19 10:21:17

So these are from the blurb? (Sorry, don't have time to read all now).

"it lets you know if the morning or night-time routine is being followed"

"Our engineer will walk around your home and after asking a few questions will identify the best place to install 3 x Hive Plugs, 2 x Hive Motion Sensors, 2 x Hive Window or Door Sensors and the Hive Hub."

So, 7 monitors and then the mapping, storing and continuous monitoring of someone's whole morning or night-time routine.

That's a lot.

What's the purpose?

People ARE ALLOWED to not follow their normal routine. Whether because the postman's rung the bell early or because they stayed up watching a film.

What is this technology trying to protect against?

Obvious answers would be:
a) a fall
b) becoming too ill to get up from bed all day.

Neither of these needs such full-on monitoring. Having one sensor on, say the bathroom door, which only triggers if bathroom hasn't been used for (say) 12 hours at a stretch, would be enough to send an alert. Possibly one other sensor somewhere else, only sending an alert if neither sensor is triggered for (say) 6 hour period in daytime. Receiver of alert then phones monitored person; if no satisfactory reply someone investigates in person.

Bear in mind the monitored person is supposed to be happy to have this tech, and therefore will be happy to eg open a window when they get up, as a "signal". If the person isn't well enough to do that, chances are they need people coming in daily anyway to make sure they're fed, etc.

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