Jan 282017
 
 January 28, 2017  Court, Healthcare, Surveillance  Add comments

So since I was just talking about biological data (DNA) being obtained as evidence, it seems fitting to also point to a somewhat concerning case in Ohio. Karin Johnson reports:

A Middletown man was indicted on charges of arson and insurance fraud.

Police said data they were able to retrieve from his electronic heart monitor was one of the key pieces of evidence that led to them charging Ross Compton.

A fire last September destroyed Compton’s house on Court Donegal in Middletown.

In his 911 call, he told a dispatcher, “I grabbed a bunch of stuff, threw it out the window.”

Compton also told the dispatcher that he had an artificial heart.

Middletown police said Compton told them that he was able to pack his suitcases and
throw them out his bedroom window after he broke out the glass with a walking stick.

According to court documents obtained by WLWT, a cardiologist told police that those actions were “highly improbable” because of Compton’s medical condition.

Police sought to prove that by collecting electronic data stored in Compton’s electronic heart device. They wanted to know Compton’s heart rate, pacer demand and cardiac rhythms before, during and after the fire.

Read more on WLWT.

So where are we going if devices that people wear for their health conditions can be used as evidence against them to obtain warrants, or to convict them? Does evidence based on the devices meet the Daubert standard? Are there any Fifth Amendment issues here? Is this really any different than using a blood draw for alcohol level in a suspected drunk-driving case that resulted in injuries?

h/t, Joe Cadillic

  3 Responses to “Middletown man’s electronic heart monitor leads to his arrest”

  1. Good questions about where incarceration nation is headed.

    Using heart monitor data to aid in an arrest is 100% JUNK SCIENCE! If this case is allowed to stand it should be appealed.

    If Americans remain silent over the IoT things being used to spy on everything we do. It will come back to haunt us.

    Another example comes to mind, last month it was revealed, police in Arkansas asked Amazon Echo to give them a person’s data to aid them in a murder investigation.

    Police in America have been slowly star chipping away at our privacy for years. Where does it stop?

  2. HHS has given guidance already at https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/faq/505/what-does-the-privacy-rule-allow-covered-entities-to-disclose-to-law-enforcement-officials/ . Fun fact: if they simply provide biometric data, absent identifying data, it may not be classified as PHI.

    • Useful link for my readers, thanks!

      What I haven’t found out yet – maybe because I don’t have court filings – is how law enforcement even knew who to seek monitor recordings from. How did they know what vendor or monitoring service or doctor to subpoena or get a warrant for?

      And then there’s the issue Joe raises, below. Is this reliable or junk science again? Can we say with scientific certainty that a quiet cardiac strip means that there is no way in hell that he could have been active or throwing something out a window, etc.? I would expect – based on my limited knowledge – that it is unlikely for the strip to be quiet if there was a lot of physical exertion or stress going on, but how unlikely? Should it be admissible?

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