Peeping Trolls: We Need New Laws to Stop Invasive Hacking

Many states have “Peeping Tom” laws for anyone who views, photographs or films another person without consent in a place where the victim has a reasonable expectation of privacy. But as of yet, no such law exists for hackers who invade a person’s home through camera security systems.

In recent weeks, hackers have broken into Ring security cameras terrorizing children, spying on women and spewing racist slurs.

 In one such incident, a Peeping Troll not only invaded a person’s home but also called a 15-year-old boy racist names.

Another incident involved a man making inappropriate comments to a woman. The perpetrator then set off the woman’s home alarm system.

Here’s a video of a hacker terrorizing an 8-year-old.

In response, Ring published a post that recommended enabling two-factor authentication and stronger passwords.

In an article about the hacks, titled–“We tested Ring’s Security. It’s Awful“–Motherboard wrote:

Ring hackers’ software works by rapidly checking if an email address and password on the Ring web login portal works; hackers will typically use a list of already compromised combinations from other services. If someone makes too many incorrect requests to login, many online services will stop them temporarily from doing so, mark their IP address as suspicious, or present a captcha to check that the user trying to login is a human rather than an automated program. Ring appears to have minimal protections in place for this though.

Breaking into home cameras is a clear violation of privacy, and if authorities are able to identify a hacker’s IP address, some laws may apply. But now is the time for stiffer penalties. There’s little difference between a Peeping Tom and a Peeping Troll. The latter is perhaps more sinister in that perpetrators do not have to reveal themselves and can invade privacy for as long as luridly as they like and remain silent.

They can stalk, spew hate and terrorize, too.

It’s time prosecutors and lawmakers do something about this new type of home invasion as hackers and their apps become more sophisticated.

Interpersonal Divide in the Age of the Machine has chapters on privacy invasion at home, school and work.


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