Survivors of domestic violence and abuse in New York could soon have a new form of defense against what has become a 21st century form of extended stalking and abuse: In-home smart devices that are connected to the Internet.
State lawmakers last week gave final approval to a bill that would enable survivors to obtain restraining orders to bar their abuser or harasser from being able to control web-connected devices like speakers or thermostats that have been used to further harass people from a distance.
“New York needs to get smarter about protecting domestic violence survivors,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, a Queens Democrat who sponsored the legislation.
“No one should fall victim to technology intended to protect them merely because antiquated laws fail to recognize the advances of modern technology. 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.”
The measure would exapnd the range of behaviors that can be controlled by a court-issued protective order to explicity add remote controlled devices found in homes, cars or on the property of survivors. The bill has the backing of advocates for survivors as smart devices become more prevalent in homes.
"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, the group's vice president of government affairs.
The bill, sponsored in the state Senate by Democrat Jamaal Bailey, now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk for his consideration.
“In this day and age, we have access to smart technology that can often make our lives easier," Bailey said. "Although these devices can benefit many, the emergence of such technology also has created a de facto loophole in current law as related to orders of protections and victims of domestic violence. As we rely more on technology in our lives, victims of domestic violence should not be subjected to having their abusers having access and control over their technology."