Fake hate crime exposed by man’s Apple Watch

Sean Sammit's heart rate gave him away.

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Ever since the first “smartwatches” started coming out, many people struggled to see the point of these devices – much less how they could ever deserve all the hype around them.

Cynical observers thought it was simply tech giants like Google and Apple trying to stay relevant and seen an innovative, and, really, throwing concepts against the wall to see if something sticks and makes them even more money.

But these gadgets have had some traction, especially in the world of Apple consumers who are quick to embrace pretty much anything the company throws at them over the wall.

And now, we may even have the answer to the question that’s always been there: what even is the point of wearing a smart watch?

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Judging by this FOX 5 New York report – it might be to willingly put yourself under constant surveillance. And it’s a degree of surveillance that the police in any semi-democratic society could never even dream of imposing on regular citizens: monitoring everybody’s location, heart-rate, quality of sleep, profiling them thanks to third-party ads, and even transmitting recordings of their conversations to “home automation” motherships.

In this case, a bad guy got caught thanks to a surveillance device he put on his own wrist willingly: an Apple watch. Namely, Sean Sammit claimed that he was a victim of an anti-Semitic attack, but the local police have now discredited that claim “thanks to the information” from the device.

Sammit’s heart rate was reportedly normal at the time he said the knife attack took place – whereas it should have been “higher” if the incident had actually happened. In effect, by choosing to wear his Apple Watch, Sammit “agreed” to provide evidence against himself. It would be interesting to see if Apple mentions this scenario anywhere in its Terms of Service.

Meantime, no doubt the world is a better place every time a fake hate crime claim is debunked – but that is, sadly, not the whole story here. This technology is invasive, poorly understood by the end-user, and could be used and abused in a myriad of circumstances, not all nearly as clear-cut and feel-good as this one.

Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovic is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovic is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]