Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Report and Order to help survivors of domestic violence cut ties with their abusers and separate from shared wireless phone plans, which can be exploited to monitor, stalk, or control victims. The Order adopts rules to implement the “Safe Connections Act” to support survivors and shield their call privacy. Public Knowledge commends the agency for taking steps to make it easier for survivors to escape abuse.
The following can be attributed to Nicholas P. Garcia, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“One of the horrors of abuse is the isolation and disconnection that survivors can experience. These rules help ensure that our communications services are working to protect and empower survivors of domestic violence, enabling them to connect to their loved ones and the vital services they need.
“Implementing the Safe Connections Act enables safe and secure line separation processes; allows for safer access to critical support resources by omitting calls to sensitive phone numbers from consumer-facing call records; improves protection against disconnection; and provides financial support through the Lifeline program to ensure that survivors can remain connected.
“The Commission has taken important steps to lower the barriers for survivors to access essential communication services but there is more to do. These rules only allow for survivors to self-certify their status to service providers if explicitly allowed by a state law. We call upon every state to follow the example set by New York and stand with the survivors of domestic violence by acting swiftly to enable self-certification.
“These rules also highlight how communications subsidy programs like Lifeline are, quite literally, lifelines for some of the most vulnerable among us. We need to enable greater access to communications services through programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program. If Congress wants to continue to protect the survivors of domestic violence and other marginalized people, they should expand the Safe Connections Act to include ACP and ensure that ACP remains fully funded.”
You may view our previously filed comments for more information.
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.