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Pacemaker data indicts alleged arsonist

Pacemaker data indicts alleged arsonist
Image courtesy of Dreamstime.com

You probably wouldn't think that a pacemaker could get you into legal trouble, but one man from Ohio discovered that's not the case. Pacemakers have been around for years. Only now are we learning the type of invasive data they can produce.

More than 3 million people rely on pacemakers to keep their hearts beating. You probably know someone who has one of these devices implanted in their chests. We've warned you before about the possible hacks certain pacemakers are prone to, which could allow someone to control them remotely and even drain their battery power. But new evidence also suggests the data collected by pacemakers could actually get you in trouble with the law.

That is if you're doing something you shouldn't be.

Meet Ross Compton

Ross Compton from Ohio is not a man in great health. He has a pacemaker. It helps keep his heart in check.

Compton was recently charged with arson and insurance fraud after the police introduced data from his pacemaker as a critical piece of evidence in the case.

You see, Compton has a severe heart condition that caused the authorities to question his story. Originally, Compton reported that he found his house burning down back in September of last year.

There was one big problem: Authorities noticed he'd already packed his suitcases, thrown them from the window and hauled them to his vehicle before the fire.

After learning of his heart condition, the police were skeptical that all of those activities could have been completed in the timeframe Compton reported. This allowed them to request and receive a search warrant for the data recorded by Compton's pacemaker.

Based on this information, experts concluded it was extremely unlikely that Compton's story was true. The pacemaker showed no signs of the physical activity during those times.

"It is highly improbable Mr. Compton would have been able to collect, pack and remove the number of items from the house, exit his bedroom window and carry numerous large and heavy items to the front of his residence during the short period of time he has indicated due to his medical conditions," the report explained.

Because of the evidence collected from Compton's pacemaker, he was charged with both arson and insurance fraud, which caused around $400,000 in property damages.

But his lawyer disagrees

Compton's lawyer is helping him fight these charges, based on an invasion of privacy. "Americans shouldn't have to make a choice between health and privacy," Stephanie Lacambra explained. "We as a society value our rights to maintain privacy over personal and medical information, and compelling citizens to turn over protected health data to law enforcement erodes those rights."

This story brings back some bad memories about the fight between the FBI and Apple over access to a suspected terrorist's smartphone. Law enforcement officials have also tried requesting recordings collected by Amazon Alexa to use as evidence in a murder case.

So the question is this: Where do we draw the line when it comes to the rights we should expect to privacy? As technology continues to evolve, the line has become very blurry.

What do you think? Did the police overstep their boundaries in Compton's case, or did he get what he deserved? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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