CETA regularly engages in legal and policy advocacy work by proposing reforms that build on our work. Drawing on our clinical and research experiences, we consult with federal and state legislators to protect and empower survivors through regulation. We also advise technology companies on designing policies and products that are empathetic to survivors.
Most recently, we have been at the forefront of a movement advocating for laws to enable survivors to leave family phone plans. Our clinical work reveals how these plans put survivors at risk by exposing sensitive information about their whereabouts and communications, while also impeding survivors from escaping abusive relationships. Early termination fees, high costs of switching accounts, and even built-in “parental” control applications can all facilitate abuse within a family plan. Based on our findings, last year we joined with other organizations to call on Congress to pass laws achieving the following goals:
Give survivors and children in their care a right to get out of family plans immediately, remotely, and for free
Require phone companies to apply strong privacy protections to any information about the abuse
Not impose burdensome or traumatizing requirements for survivors to give evidence of the abuse to the phone company
Let survivors keep their numbers to stay connected
Require phone companies to train their employees about these rights and give information to their customers about getting out of family plans in abuse situations
Over the last year, legislation has been introduced in Congress and New York that would achieve many of these goals, and we have been encouraged by the results of our advocacy efforts. While further work is needed to pass these federal and state bills into law (see our memo to lawmakers on the Safe Connections Act), we are pleased that lawmakers are taking our concerns seriously and seeking our guidance throughout the drafting process. CETA is also advising legislators on other protections for survivors, such as through state laws allowing survivors to remove sensitive information published online by data brokers and federal regulations requiring companies to omit communications with domestic-violence hotlines from phone records and call logs.
In another branch of our advocacy work, we provide pushback and guidance to technology companies offering products that pose risks to survivors. CETA’s collective expertise in law, computer science, and abuse allows us to advise tech companies on both designing products and writing policies that govern their use.
If you would like to learn more about our advocacy work or seek our guidance on proposed legislation or policies, please contact CETA Volunteer and Law Professor Thomas Kadri.