Feb 28, 2024 - Technology

FCC chairwoman asks that automakers be subject to a domestic abuse law

Jessica Rosenworcel, chairwoman of the FCC, speaks

Jessica Rosenworcel, chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, speaks at a summit in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14, 2022. Photo: Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Jessica Rosenworcel, chairwoman of the FCC, introduced a proposal on Wednesday that aims to make it more difficult for domestic violence or domestic abuse survivors to be harassed or stalked using internet car systems.

The big picture: Recent media reports have documented domestic violence or domestic abuse survivors being stalked or harmed through the use of smart car devices.

What she's saying: "A car is a critical lifeline that can give survivors a way to escape their abusers, gain independence, and seek support," Rosenworcel said in a statement Wednesday.

  • "Survivors of domestic abuse shouldn't have to choose between giving up their vehicle and feeling safe. We must ensure car manufacturers and wireless carriers understand the full impact of the connectivity tools in new vehicles and how these applications can be used to stalk, harass, and intimidate," she said.

Zoom in: The proposal would make a telecommunications law meant to protect domestic violence or domestic abuse survivors applicable to automakers selling internet-connected vehicles, per Reuters.

Flashback: In January, Rosenworcel wrote to several automakers and wireless service providers asking for their help in "protecting domestic abuse survivors from the misuse of connected car tools by abusers."

  • Rosenworcel asked whether each of the companies had "policies or processes in place to remove access to connected apps, devices, or other features from certain individuals — including those listed on the title of the vehicle — at the request of survivors of domestic violence or abuse."

Congress passed the Safe Connections Act in 2022, which "establishes requirements concerning access to communication services for survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and related harms."

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