The so-called Internet of Things, the all-encompassing digitally-connected devices which now surround us in our everyday lives, has revolutionized business, politics, and culture. How, then, has it impacted our judiciary system, and what changes can legal actors and citizens alike expect in the near future?
Adequately answering this question necessitates a basic understanding of what exactly the IoT is. IoT refers to everyday objects and devices in our homes, businesses, and public spheres which are now digitally interconnected and sharing data with one another. The term is also sometimes used to describe the process of these things becoming interconnected as well.
Once one truly appreciates the scope of the IoT understanding that our phones, cars, homes, bank accounts, and entertainment systems, to name only some, are interconnected its impact on law becomes easier to assess.
IoT devices dont merely share data with one another, but often collect data themselves as well. Seemingly innocuous items of the past, such as our TVs and entertainment systems, now more often than not come imbedded with microphones and cameras capable of recording conversations and images once thought safely hidden within the confines of ones home.
Within the legal sphere, this data is now subject to potential subpoena; only recently, police investigators sought access to the data of a privately-owned Amazon Echo home assistant, leading Amazon to dispute the request on the grounds that it violated the 1st amendment. This incident is merely the beginning of a coming wave of judicial change; in the world of tomorrow, peoples personal and private data which has been collected from nearby digital devices can and will be used as evidence in a court of law. As you probably know, a subpoena can ultimately lead to an arrest. Is it possible that someone may get arrested for a crime like this and have to use a bail bondsman to get out of jail? Is this really what our world is coming to?
Trial lawyers, judges, jurors, and other legal actors will soon need to familiarize themselves with the intimacies of data and metadata collection should they hope to remain on steady footing within the courtroom. Todays legal luddites, hesitant to embrace digital change and unwilling to remain up to date with the latest in technological fashion, will find themselves sorely outgunned on the judicial battlefield.
Are you comfortable with the persona data collected from your devices being used as evidence in a court of law? Are you concerned about the potential privacy invasions that are brought on by a digitally connected world that lacks an off-switch?