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Monday, July 23, 2012

A safety net for victims of domestic abuse

Technology helps victims and their children successfully flee violent batterers, stalkers and rapists. Survivors map roads to new lives on the web by reaching out to shelters and hotlines, researching restraining orders and address confidentiality programs, and finding housing, employment opportunities, new schools and online support. But what millions don't realize is the dangerous and potentially lethal sides of various technologies in the hands of abusers and perpetrators. The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) Safety Net Project, which turns 10 this year, has been a highly effective advocate for public education about how ongoing and emerging technology issues impact the safety, privacy and accessibility rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking. The Safety Net Project:
  • Works to educate communities and agencies about technology issues that impact victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking.
  • Educates victims, their advocates and the general public on ways to use technology strategically to help find safety and escape domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, stalking and abuse.
  • Trains law enforcement and justice systems, social services, coordinated community response teams and others how to hold perpetrators accountable for misusing technology.
  • Advocates for strong local, state, national and international policies that ensure the safety, privacy and civil rights of all victims and survivors.
The project has many excellent consumer education publications on its website. One example addresses Cell Phone: Location Tracking and Sharing. According to NNEDV, there are many ways that a cell or mobile phone's location can be tracked or shared. The tipsheet describes many location-based services used on cell phones and explains different ways that a cell phone's location can be tracked including via Global Positioning System (GPS) devices, cell tower triangulation and local wireless Internet connections (Wi-Fi hot spots). It describes the risks and benefits of location-based applications and services that are being used on cell phones. It addresses social location sharing via social networking sites, geotags that disclose where a photo was taken, and other files that phones keep that might be accessed by perpetrators to find out a victim's real-time or past locations. It describes many ways that cell phone location tracking is relevant to agencies and partnerships that provide services to victims of crime, and lists many points to consider when safety planning with victims or addressing agency and staff use. WirelessED and Consumer Action salute the NNEDV Safety Net Project on its 10th anniversary! Check out the work done by this important organization and we think you'll be as impressed as we are.