FCC Mulls Rules to Protect Abuse Survivors from Stalking Through Cars
2024-4-10 04:3:2 Author: securityboulevard.com(查看原文) 阅读量:2 收藏

In January, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sent letters to automakers and wireless service providers to hear what they were doing to protect survivors of domestic violence from being stalked by their abusers through real-time location, hands-free communication, and other connectivity services in their cars.

It was the first step in determining whether such vehicles should be included in the Safe Connections Act, a law aimed at creating rules to establish secure access to communications systems for abuse survivors. Now the agency is moving ahead with the effort to see what rules are needed to make internet-connected cars come into line with the bipartisan act passed in 2022.

The FCC this week issued a notice of proposed rulemaking, asking vehicle manufacturers and wireless service providers to detail the connected car services they use and support, get comments what these organizations can do to protect users from being stalked by those who have abused them, and to determine whether changes need to be made to the Safe Connections Act to address the threat that comes from connected cars.

“No survivor of domestic violence and abuse should have to choose between giving up their car and allowing themselves to be stalked and harmed by those who can access its connectivity and data,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “We can – and should – do more to make sure these new forms of communications help keep survivors safe.”

Are Cars MVNOs?

The agency needs to determine if connected cars fall under the definition of “mobile virtual network operators” (MVNOs). In the rulemaking notice, the FCC indicates it’s leaning in that direction, noting that wireless providers through connected cars offer services to consumers and can enter into agreements with subscribers who want to add a line to their mobile service contract for the automobile.

At the same time, car manufacturers also enter into agreements with owners to provide them with connected car services, the agency said. If connected cars are considered MVNOs, car manufacturers would be more tightly regulated regarding the data they collect and store.

One of the FCC’s first actions under the Safe Connections Act was to require communication providers to allow survivors to separate phone lines linked to family plans that including their abuser, allowing the victim remain in contact with family and friends but make it difficult for the abuser to track them, Rosenworcel said.

She said that cellphones are a “lifeline” to help survivors rebuild their lives and noted that cars play a similar role.

“It is a means of escape and independence, and it is often essential for those seeking employment and support,” Rosenworcel said. “That is why in this rulemaking we propose that survivors should be able to separate lines that connect their cars, just like they can separate their phone lines from family plans.”

A Growing Problem

The FCC’s efforts come after reports from The New York Times, Reuters, and others showing how abusers can use data from the connected vehicles to locate and track their victims.

The myriad benefits of the connected services in cars “include helping to locate a vehicle in a parking lot and connecting promptly with first responders in an emergency without a phone,” the FCC wrote in its notice. “These features typically require the car to have wireless connectivity and to create and share location data. However, when these data and connectivity are in the wrong hands, they may be used to harm a survivor in – or attempting to leave – an abusive relationship.”

Auto Lobby Disagrees

Not everyone is onboard with the idea of connected vehicles falling within the Safe Connections Act. An auto manufacturing lobbying group, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, in January argued that the legislation doesn’t apply to automobiles.

“Automakers do not have ‘shared mobile service contracts’ associated with separate lines in a single vehicle,” Hilary Cain, senior vice president of policy for the association, wrote in a letter to Rosenworcel. “Each vehicle is associated with a telematics control unit (TCU) which is not capable of making and receiving calls in the same manner as a telephone, but instead functions to place one-way calls to call centers operated by or on behalf of the automaker.”

In addition, carmakers don’t keep call records or provider customer-facing call logs, and because the connectivity is associated with the vehicle rather than a particular person, it can’t be separated among users of the automobile.

“Stated simply, in-vehicle connectivity offerings fall outside of the purview of the SCA and the problems associated with shared mobile service contracts that the SCA seeks to address,” Cain wrote.

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