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Dingell Urges FCC to Protect Domestic Violence Survivors Against Misuse of Connected Vehicle Technologies

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-06) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel urging the Commission to take proactive measures to address the threat of domestic abusers exploiting connectivity tools in vehicles to harass and intimidate their partners. The FCC recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to better understand the risks posed by connected vehicles to survivors of domestic abuse.
“It is important to provide survivors of domestic violence with secure communication channels free from the threat of stalking and harm. My goal is to also work collaboratively with you, automakers, domestic violence groups, and other stakeholders to ensure well-intentioned technological innovations do not create new challenges and risks for survivors,” Dingell wrote. “Perpetrators of domestic violence often utilize methods of surveillance and control against their targets, and it is essential to consider their safety and well-being. Connected vehicles could potentially be exploited by abusers to monitor and track survivors, heightening their sense of vulnerability, and hindering their availability to carry out functions of their everyday life, including going to work, taking their children to school, doing grocery shopping, and more.”
“This includes implementing robust security measures in connected vehicles to prevent unauthorized access and misuse. Additionally, raising awareness among survivors about the potential risks associated with connected technologies and providing them with resources and support to enhance their safety and privacy is crucial. Any remedy must address transparency measures that allow consumers to understand who can access their data and to what extent they can control that access. By working together, we can create a safer environment for survivors of all ages, empowering them to pursue freedom from domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and harassment,” Dingell continued. “We need to collaborate with law enforcement agencies, survivor advocacy organizations, and technology companies to develop protocols and guidelines for responding to incidents of domestic abuse involving connected vehicles. My engagement with stakeholders has revealed a shared recognition and acknowledgement of and the need for urgent action to safeguard survivors due to potential misuse of connected vehicle services. Stakeholders emphasize the consequences of technology-enabled stalking on survivors’ lives and underscore the imperative for robust protections and support mechanisms.”
“I would like to work with the FCC, my colleagues in Congress, and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive understanding of and solutions to the misuse of connected vehicle technologies, as well as the broader challenges and unique needs of survivors in accessing resources and assistance, such as ensuring that reporting and notification processes are confidential and trauma-informed,” Dingell concluded. “We can create a safer environment for survivors of all ages, empowering them to pursue freedom from domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and harassment. Specifically, any remedy must acknowledge that the reporting and notification process will present a heightened risk of abuse, and consider proactive methods to curb retaliation from an abuser. Solutions must also consider the ability of survivors to swiftly revoke or disable an abuser’s access to their activity on connected vehicle technology, ability to remove sensitive data that has already been stored in an app and ensure that the abuser cannot utilize other methods, such as a service request, to access that data.”
View the full text of the letter here.
Dingell has long fought to protect survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. She has led the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act to close the boyfriend loophole and keep guns out of the hands of abusive dating partners and stalkers. In 2018, Dingell established the Bipartisan Working Group to End Domestic Violence to bring together a bipartisan group of members to identify ways to strengthen resources and protections for survivors and their children.
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