Data From Pacemaker Used in Prosecution

A man in Ohio was charged with arson and insurance fraud after data from his pacemaker did not support his story about how his house burned down.

The evidence from the pacemaker was taken on a warrant.

A lawyer from the Electronic Frontier Foundation is quoted in the ABA story at the link as saying that privacy interests in one’s health information were “eroded” by the decision. The statement suggests that privacy should override the state’s interest in prosecution.

Do you agree? Or is the need for a warrant enough protection for privacy relating to medical devices, as it is presumed to be for anything else for which a warrant is needed?


  1. I struggle with this issue. On the one hand, it was obtained from a warrant presumably based on some sort of probable cause, and not a fishing expedition.

    On the other hand, the amount of information that exists about us on medical devices, phones, and our stuff in general, and the increasing ability of AI to glean information about us, increases each day. The temptation is to use that because it exists – by law enforcement, marketers, and malfeasants alike (sometimes those definitions blend together).

    Are we going down the wrong path if we just analyse each situation, and not look at this bigger picture at the same time?

  2. David Collier-Brown

    I’d like to see a very high standard apply here: the person will presumably die or be disabled without the pacemaker, and it’s typically not something they can program themselves.
    The person had the choice of being disabled, being dead, or collecting information that can be used against them, so the courts should be appropriately cautious about implanted-medical-device data, over and above any other considerations that call for more scrutiny, such as Mr Canton describes.