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Privacy and the connected home

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

One of the most visible illustrations of the Internet of Things movement, the connected home continues to open up an expanding world of RMR possibilities for the security industry. But according to a recent CNN Money report, it’s also opening up some new and murky legal terrain that, like many Internet-related matters, raises fundamental questions about privacy and information rights.

The headline is as blunt as it is Orwellian: “Cops can access your connected home.” While the article references smart home technology writ large, the piece mostly focuses on the video aspect of the connected home and the potential for cameras to generate footage that could someday be used in legal proceedings.

In the article, Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst from the American Civil Liberties Union, is quoted as saying, “We’re seeing law enforcement across a variety of areas arguing that they should be able to access information with lower standards than before the electronic age.”

The source also notes that information from the home can provide a “window into the things you’re doing in your private space.”

Still, authorities cannot get their hands on such footage without a warrant or subpoena, as the article notes. A judge authorizes a warrant when the prosecutors show “probable cause” that evidence exists that could be linked to criminal activity. Subpoenas, however, have a somewhat looser standard, requiring only that the data being sought is relevant to a given investigation.

Security companies offering interactive services are typically very sensitive to the notion that customers have lingering concerns about privacy. Andy Stadler, division manager, advanced services, at Security Partners, illustrated that awareness in our conversation a few weeks ago about the company’s recent adoption of Alarm.com’s new video verified alarm service. During the development phase, he said, Security Partners and Alarm.com took pains to erect privacy measures that would perform the dual task of giving central stations the information they need without infringing on the customer's privacy.

This left me wondering: With home automation offerings so widespread, could the implementation of more robust and consumer-friendly privacy measures emerge as a real differentiator? Are the more tech-savvy, privacy-conscious consumers going to start asking companies how long they store footage on their servers? Are they going to ask how and why authorities might access data generated in their homes? Are they going to ask about what cyber security measures are being put in place to thwart hacks?

This will be a fascinating industry topic to watch on several levels. At the business level, it could just be that the companies most attentive to privacy protections will view public skepticism as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.

Scallop Imaging is back

Steve Gorski joins team, will introduce distribution partners, launch channel partner program in next quarter
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06/17/2014

BOSTON—Scallop Imaging, a camera manufacturer that introduced its “distributed imaging” technology in 2009, has new ownership and management who plan to make Scallop Imaging a well-known name in security.

3xLOGIC acquires Sonitrol product development

Deal brings central station intelligence to 3xLOGIC and innovation to Sonitrol
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06/17/2014

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—Intelligent video surveillance solution provider 3xLOGIC on June 13 announced it has acquired the product development and research group of Sonitrol from Stanley Security.

Specifically speaking: Christopher Grniet

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06/16/2014

Specifically Speaking features Q-and-A with a different security consultant every month. In June, we spoke to Christopher Grniet, regional vice president at Guidepost Solutions in New York.

Wireless touted at NFPA show

Remote testing devices and FAAST that goes further were also among new offerings
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06/16/2014

LAS VEGAS— New developments when it comes to wireless fire solutions and aspirating smoke detectors were among offerings being touted at the annual NFPA Conference & Expo, held here June 9-12.

Carolina Security Group aiming for super-regional status

New 'turnkey' security company is in the market for acquisitions
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06/11/2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Industry veteran Jeremy Brooks announced this week that he’s launched Carolina Security Group—a new security company with aspirations to become a super-regional.

SSN seeks nominees for ‘20 under 40’ Class of 2014

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06/11/2014

YARMOUTH, Maine—Who will lead the security industry tomorrow? We can have a pretty good idea based on the performance of certain young standouts in the industry today.

PPVAR, SIAC talk verified alarm standards

Guidelines needed to govern how central stations and PSAPs interact during a dispatch
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06/11/2014

LAS VEGAS—It’s little wonder that the topic of verified alarms tends to spark dialogue between those in law enforcement and the alarm space. Intended to reduce false dispatches while increasing apprehensions, verified alarms—and the policies that guide them—are of critical importance to both groups, and continue to shape the relationship between them.

Advanced Signal acquires life-safety division of electrical contractor

The fold-in will benefit the Massachusetts parts-and-smarts company and its parent company, American Alarm and Communications
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06/11/2014

RANDOLPH, Mass.—Advanced Signal, based here, has acquired the fire and life safety accounts of a longtime Rockland, Mass.-based electrical contractor, P.E. Caruso.

ESX seminar explores new models for customer engagement

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It’s that time of year: ESX is closing in on us, and my schedule for the show is beginning to take form. I’m envisioning a high-energy, well-paced show, with an array of educational sessions geared to new and important topics, and a show floor conducive to getting the skinny on the trends shaping the industry.

I wanted to use this space to draw attention to a seminar I’ll be moderating Tuesday, June 24 at 3:15 titled “Monitoring: A Quality Customer Touch Point.”

I’ll be talking to Mike Bodnar, president of Security Partners, Tom Szell, SVP at ADS, and Brandon Savage, SVP of customer experience and operations at Alarm Capital Alliance / My Alarm Center about the new means of customer engagement brought on by the rise of mobile apps and interactive services, and how those in the industry can leverage these advances to minimize attrition.  

With Nashville roughly ten days away, I encourage folks (particularly those on the monitoring side) to contact me in the days ahead to arrange a meeting on the show floor. Given the structure of the show, and its emphasis on education, I don’t anticipate fodder for conversation being in any short supply. Industry shows like ESX offer a valuable stage not only for discussing initiatives specific to a single business, but also broader trends affecting the industry writ large. I look forward to chatting.

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