Rozic Announces Legislation to Protect Domestic Violence Survivors from Smart Home Technology Abuses

Albany, NY – Today, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Queens) introduced legislation to protect domestic violence survivors by allowing for restraining orders that prohibit an abuser or harasser from controlling “smart” devices in a domestic abuse survivors’ home, vehicle or property.

“New York needs to get smarter about protecting consumers,” said Assemblywoman Rozic. “No domestic violence survivor should fall victim to the technology intended to protect them merely because antiquated laws fail to recognize the advances of modern technology.”

“Safe Horizon’s utmost concern is the safety of domestic violence survivors. Recognizing the dangers of smart tech abuse, this legislation puts survivors and their safety concerns first, and makes their voices heard in their plight to seek justice,” said Michael Polenberg, Safe Horizon VP of Government Affairs.

Jeehae Fischer, Executive Director of Korean American Family Service Center (KAFSC) said: “At KAFSC we have seen an increasing number of domestic violence cases involving smart technology. We commend Assemblywoman Rozic for introducing this legislation to address such a crucial issue and ensure that domestic violence survivors have the protection they need”

Shoshannah D. Frydman, Executive Director of Shalom Task Force said: “In our work at Shalom Task Force, we witness how abusers understand all too well how to abuse technology to manipulate and harass victims. They will frequently use GPS and cell phone data to track their victims. Victims need access to their phones and computers to ensure their safety. This bill will help ensure that remotely controlling such devices is covered under the law by expanding prohibited behaviors in an order of protection without a victim having to expressly request it. Unrepresented litigants don't always know what to request in court - this bill will ensure this protection against remotely controlling is expressly included once an order is entered.”

Smart devices are interactive, electronic devices that connect to other devices through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, etc. These devices include security systems that can lock or unlock doors and windows, cameras, thermostats, sprinklers, voice-activated assistants and speakers, lights and more. These devices can often be used by domestic abusers as tools for surveillance, harassment, and stalking.

This legislation would expand the behaviors that can be controlled by a court-issued domestic violence protective order to explicitly include remote control of connected devices in the home, vehicle, or property of the victims. Protective orders currently do not protect against those who control accounts for smart devices, providing a unique way of harassing victims through smartphone apps connected to the internet-enabled devices.

More recently, this technology has become more and more prevalent in New York homes. It is estimated the number of homes with some smart technology is growing 31 percent a year, according to McKinsey & Company.

Last year, Rozic authored a law that allows domestic violence survivors who receive a permanent order of protection to be exempt from bills and fees accrued when a person prematurely ends a multi-year contract with a phone, cable or satellite company.

Rozic added, “This new legislation would allow for all New Yorkers to seek restraining orders that take into account smart technology and stop this modern form of abuse.”