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FCC Urges Support from Carmakers and Wireless Firms for Domestic Abuse Survivors

The chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Jessica Rosenworcel, has expressed concerns over the misuse of connected car tools in domestic abuse cases. She has reached out to automakers and wireless service providers to discuss safeguarding domestic abuse survivors.

Urgent Request to Automakers and Service Providers

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In a letter dated Jan. 11, Chairwoman Rosenworcel contacted nine major automakers and three voice service providers. She asked for detailed information on how these companies are supporting victims harassed by domestic abusers using connected car technology.

Modern Vehicles and Privacy Concerns

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Rosenworcel pointed out that modern vehicles come equipped with advanced features like hands-free communication and location tracking. These features, intended to enhance the driving experience, are increasingly being exploited by domestic abusers.

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Potential Misuse of Vehicle Technology

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She emphasized the growing concern that these technological services are being used for stalking, harassment, and intimidation in cases of intimate partner violence. Rosenworcel underscored the potential danger when such technologies fall into the wrong hands.

The New York Times Report Highlights

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The FCC head referenced a report by The New York Times, which included insights from domestic violence experts. The report discussed how internet-connected apps in vehicles are being used by abusers to stalk and harass victims, often with little help from car makers.

Critical Role of Vehicles for Survivors

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Rosenworcel stressed the importance of vehicles as a means of escape and independence for domestic abuse survivors. She highlighted their necessity for employment and support, underscoring the need for secure vehicle access.

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A Plea for Survivor Safety

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Rosenworcel firmly stated that no survivor should have to choose between their car and their safety from stalkers. She called for collaboration with the auto and wireless industry to find effective solutions for survivor safety.

Outreach to Industry Leaders

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She sent letters to senior executives at leading vehicle manufacturers, including Ford, General Motors, and Tesla. The FCC Chairwoman also reached out to major wireless providers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Request for Detailed Information

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Rosenworcel asked these companies for specifics on their connected car systems, especially those with location tracking or remote access features. She inquired about the plans for these systems in future vehicles intended for the U.S. market.

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Policies and Processes Inquiry

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She also queried whether these companies have measures to remove access to connected apps or features upon requests from abuse survivors. This inquiry included whether such policies apply to individuals listed on the vehicle’s title.

Handling of Geolocation Data

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Further, Rosenworcel sought information on how these companies manage consumer geolocation data. She also asked about their compliance with the Safe Connections Act of 2022.

Deadline for Information Submission

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The FCC head requested that the automakers and service providers submit the requested information by Jan. 26. This step is crucial for the FCC’s ongoing efforts to address domestic violence concerns related to connected vehicles.

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National Domestic Violence Statistics

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The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports alarming statistics: one in four women and one in seven men in the U.S. are survivors of severe domestic violence. Additionally, an average of 24 people per minute are victims of violence or stalking by an intimate partner.

Stalking Prevalence in the U.S.

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In the U.S., 16.2% of women and 5.2% of men have experienced stalking, where they feared harm or death. These statistics highlight the widespread issue of stalking and its impact on individuals’ lives.

Advice from Domestic Violence Experts

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Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, advised ensuring equal access to controlling technologies in relationships. She emphasized the importance of mutual access to apps controlling vehicles as a preventive measure against abuse.

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Monica Balmes is a talented copywriter with a passion for creating engaging and informative content.