Condo Media - November 2020 - 13

In this day and age, everyone comfortably runs
life from their cell phones, computers, and tablets.
There seems to be an app and a smart device for everything.

A

As people welcome more and more
internet-connected "smart devices" into
their homes, condominium boards may
start thinking about how to use these
devices as well. After all, if unit owners
are turning their units into smart homes,
why shouldn't boards do the same with
common areas? But before creating the
"smart association," boards must face
several considerations.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO IOT
All of today's smart devices comprise
the internet of things (IoT). IoT
encompasses the network that hosts
internet-connected home appliances
and other devices, allowing connections,
interactions, and the exchange of data.
There are "smart" lights, thermostats,
doorbells, and kitchen appliances. Internet connectivity allows people to turn
on lights from their cell phones, adjust
thermostat settings from afar, or remotely see - and even talk to - someone
at their front door. The manufacturers of
these devices advertise financial savings,
security, and convenience. With this,
IoT has grown tremendously, with
an estimated 7 billion devices in use
worldwide. Boards may be thinking
about devices like internet-enabled
security cameras, locks, thermostats, and
humidity and leak detectors. Boards may
seek the advertised benefits or simply
to modernize the property. Of course,
installing these devices will require an
active wireless internet connection.
DEVICE-SPECIFIC
CONSIDERATIONS
Beyond infrastructure, each IoT device
requires its own set of considerations.
Smart Locks
Associations may seek to install
smart locks on common access
doors. Smart locks could save both

money and hassle versus controlling
keys to the common doors. They
also allow owners to give guests
access to the building without
distributing keys. Boards should
remember, however, that thanks to
their internet connection, there is
the possibility of "hacking."
Hacking into a smart lock allows
a nefarious person control over the
device. They could unlock the door
or even lock all unit owners out. In
this event, the association could be
accused of failing to properly secure
its internet network and, accordingly,
the security of the common doors. In
addition, if an unauthorized person
hacks the device, gains access to the
building, and proceeds to engage in
criminal activity that victimizes unit
owners, the association could face a
legal headache. While associations
are generally not held legally liable
for the criminal acts of third parties
beyond their control, a victimized
owner could argue that the association is liable for damages because
access to the building was through
an unsecure electronic lock. If a
hacker gains access by breaching the
association's own internet network,
an owner could argue that the association's failure to properly secure
its network makes the association
liable. It could also be argued that
the manufacturer is at fault for
insufficient security features in their
devices. These issues could lead to
costly finger-pointing amongst all
of the parties. Although somewhat
unsettled still, the general rule being
established in the law is that where
a board elects to be involved in a security measure, they must undertake
the project reasonably and properly.
This standard is likely applicable to
all such devices.

Wireless Security Cameras
Today's wireless, smart security
cameras provide significant benefits
and convenience. They can increase
security, provide deterrence against
misconduct, and produce valuable
evidence in the event of an incident.
Accompanying apps allow access
from a smartphone or tablet. Board
members or property managers
could access the security feed or
recorded videos at a moment's
notice - even from afar. The videos
may be stored in the manufacturer's
cloud, freeing associations from
purchase and maintenance of their
own storage.
The biggest concern with these
devices is privacy. The danger of
minimally secured access to these
devices is most palpably illustrated by
the Foscam breaches that occurred a
few years ago. In one case, "a hacker
tapped into a couple's Foscam baby
monitor, spouting profanity at their
two-year-old and even discovering
and then using the child's name by
reading it off the nursery wall using
the monitor's camera." Though
companies are doing a better job with
security, the security of IoT devices
remains an arms race. Hackers constantly search for points of entry and
manufacturers constantly "plug the
gap," once they are aware.
Unit owners could express
similar privacy concerns. Here, note
that the prevailing legal standard
requires a claimant to have a "reasonable expectation of privacy"
in the area in which they were
observed. Public places offer no
such expectation. Even decks and
balconies are deemed "not private"
where in public view. So, use of such
cameras in common areas is potentially permissible.
November 2020 CONDOMEDIA

13



Condo Media - November 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - November 2020

Contents
Condo Media - November 2020 - Cover1
Condo Media - November 2020 - Cover2
Condo Media - November 2020 - Contents
Condo Media - November 2020 - 2
Condo Media - November 2020 - 3
Condo Media - November 2020 - 4
Condo Media - November 2020 - 5
Condo Media - November 2020 - 6
Condo Media - November 2020 - 7
Condo Media - November 2020 - 8
Condo Media - November 2020 - 9
Condo Media - November 2020 - 10
Condo Media - November 2020 - 11
Condo Media - November 2020 - 12
Condo Media - November 2020 - 13
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