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After elderly tenant was locked in his apartment by his landlord’s stupid “smart lock,” tenants win right to use actual keys to enter their homes

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Tenants in New York City have reached a settlement with their landlord requiring the landlord to install actual locks with actual keys on demand, rather than insisting that all tenants use locks from Latch, the leading Internet of Things “smart lock” vendor, whose products conduct fine-grained surviellance on their users, which the company reserves the right to share with third parties.

The suit was brought by Mary Beth McKenzie, Tony Mysak, and a group of their fellow tenants against their Hell’s Kitchen landlord after the landlord summarily swapped out their apartment building’s locks and replaced them with Latch products. Mysak, a 93-year-old longtime resident of the building, was unable to operate the lock on his home and found himself locked in.

The settlement gives the tenants a cause of action to sue their landlord in the event that the landlord deprives them of a physical key option in the future. Lisa Gallaudet, an attorney representing the landlords, insists that this is not a “victory” for the tenants, and says her client only settled because litigation would have been an expensive nuisance.

More than 1,000 NYC buildings have Latch products installed in them.

Unauthorized Bread, the first story in my new book Radicalized, is about tenants whose landlords use nonconsensual Internet of Things devices to extract additional revenues from them, with toaster ovens that only toast “authorized bread,” dishwashers that only wash “authorized dishes” etc.

Mary Beth McKenzie, her husband, Tony Mysak, and a group of tenants sued their landlords after the landlords installed the smart locks last year, arguing that there were privacy concerns with the Latch smart lock and the app required to get into their own building.

Mysak, who’s 93, wasn’t capable of using a phone and found himself trapped in his home because of the smart locks, McKenzie said. The plaintiffs also had issues with Latch’s privacy policy, which said that the app could collect people’s location data and use it for marketing purposes. Latch said it didn’t do that and was revising its privacy policy.

Tenants win as settlement orders landlords give physical keys over smart locks [Alfred Ng/Cnet]

(Image: Cryteria, CC-BY)

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