A Hidden Risk for Domestic Violence Victims: Family Phone Plans

For many families, joint cell phone plans are a convenient way to consolidate the cost of staying connected. Carriers love them because they prevent customers from easily switching to another competitor. But for survivors of intimate partner violence, getting locked into a family phone plan can be dangerous. The person who controls the account, oftentimes their abuser, can access a survivor’s call records and even the precise location of their device—information that can then be used to harass, intimidate, or carry out violence. And unlike a stalkerware app that can be deleted, survivors can’t always abandon their phone and number, which may be their primary connection to friends, family, and employment.

Intimate partner violence is a widespread issue in the United States: about one in four women and nearly one in 10 men have experienced it in some form, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the coronavirus pandemic, with tens of millions of people isolated at home, the problem is likely getting worse. In April, during the height of the outbreak in New York, reports of domestic violence increased 30 percent in the state. Unable to get help in person, many survivors are more reliant on their phones than ever before. But if they share a family plan with their abuser, that lifeline could also represent a serious danger, one that’s often overlooked, says Sarah St.Vincent, the director of Cornell Tech’s Clinic to End Tech Abuse. “Family plans are something that I had never thought of, and I think that they really are, in this context, the snake in the grass,” she says.

click this over here now
click this site
click to find out more
click to investigate
click to read
clicking here
company website
consultant
content
continue
continue reading
continue reading this
continue reading this..
continued
conversational tone
cool training
Get the facts
Related Site
Recommended Reading
Recommended Site
describes it
description
dig this
directory
discover here
discover more
discover more here
discover this
discover this info here
do you agree
enquiry
experienced
explanation
extra resources
find
find more
find more info
find more information
find out here
find out here now
find out more
find out this here
for beginners
from this source
full article
full report
funny postget more
get more info
get more information
get redirected here
get the facts
go
go here
go now
go right here
go to the website
go to these guys
go to this site
go to this web-site
go to this website
go to website
go!!
going here
good
great post to read
great site
had me going
have a peek at these guys
have a peek at this site
have a peek at this web-site
have a peek at this website
have a peek here
he has a good point
he said
helpful hints
helpful resources
helpful site
her comment is here
her explanation
her latest blog

The clinic provides free technology assistance to survivors in New York City, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence. Many of them struggle with the privacy implications of being on a shared family plan. “People would come in and report, for example, the abuser knows where they are,” says Diana Freed, a PhD candidate at Cornell Tech who volunteers at the clinic as part of her research. “They’ve left the abuser and moved onto a new relationship, new friends, and suddenly all of their contacts have been contacted by the abuser and there was no idea how this person got the numbers.”

In 2018, Freed published a study with researchers from Cornell, Hunter College, and City College of New York examining the ways abusers exploit technology. She found that family phone plans were a popular avenue for control, and that victims were frequently unaware of the full extent of what their abusers could access. “It was his account…he can see everybody I talk to. He probably had access to my voicemail,” one participant in the study said. “I just learned that somebody can access your voicemail. I don’t know what he was doing.” Participants reported at least 10 cases where the abuser gave a cell phone to a child they shared with the survivor; because they may have a legal right to remain in contact with their kids, Freed and her co-authors wrote, the survivor may not be permitted to take away the phone.

Even when a victim realizes their family phone plan is putting them at risk, it’s not necessarily easy for them to get off of it. Carriers typically charge an early termination fee for canceling a contract before it’s over, which can amount to hundreds of dollars. Some survivors can’t afford to begin paying for a new device and wireless plan on their own. If they call customer service to make changes, the representative could ask for personal information about the account holder, like the last four digits of their social security number or a special passcode, which a survivor might not know. Those safeguards help protect against things like SIM swap attacks, where hackers impersonate their victims to hijack their accounts, but they also make it difficult for survivors to disentangle themselves from their abusers.

Around a dozen states have passed laws or are considering legislation giving survivors the right to ask a phone carrier to remove them from a shared plan without paying any fees. But experts say the rules are underused, unclear, and too often put the burden on the victim to demonstrate their eligibility. “There’s a lack of knowledge that this remedy is available for folks,” says Stella Hirsch, a staff attorney specializing in intimate partner violence at Safe Horizon, a nonprofit that provides aid to violence victims in New York City. New York has one of these laws, but Hirsch says she’s never spoken with a client who was previously aware of its protections.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post How to Spot—and Avoid—Dark Patterns on the Web
Next post Remember TV on the Internet Before Netflix? Neither Do We