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Victims of domestic abuse express concerns about car tracking software potentially endangering them. A New York lawmaker is working to provide assistance.



The issue of domestic abuse victims being stalked and tracked through their cars has been a long-standing problem that Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal from the Upper West Side wants to address by proposing legislation that would require automakers to terminate access to remote tracking upon request from a domestic violence victim. With tracking software often built into newer cars, victims are finding it difficult to escape the reach of their abusers, who can monitor their movements through these systems. This can lead to feelings of fear and lack of safety for the victims.

One Bronx woman shared her experience of having an after-market remote start system installed in her car by her estranged abusive husband, allowing him to see where she last parked through the app. This situation has caused her anxiety and fear for her safety, as she is concerned about potential dangers and ambushes from her partner. Queens attorney Lindsey Song highlighted the challenges that victims face in seeking help from automakers, as they are preoccupied with ensuring their safety and that of their children.

Christine Dowdall from Louisiana also shared her story of being stalked by her ex-husband through an app connected to their Mercedes Benz. Despite her efforts to seek help from Mercedes, she was unable to find a solution until she had the software disabled by a mechanic for $400. Dowdall expressed the emotional toll of being stalked, stating that it can mentally cripple a person. Automakers like Mercedes have responded by stating that their tracking features are intended for finding lost or stolen cars and that they have measures in place to support victims of stalking.

Mercedes-Benz emphasized that they review requests on a case-by-case basis and consider urgent circumstances when supporting customers facing stalking situations. They are also working with the Alliance for Automotive Innovation on federal legislation aimed at giving survivors a way to terminate access to remote services and providing liability protection to automakers terminating access by authorized users who are abusers. Other automakers such as Toyota, Ford, and more are also members of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, showing a united effort within the industry to address the issue of stalking through car tracking technology.

In conclusion, the problem of domestic abuse victims being stalked and tracked through their cars is a serious issue that requires immediate attention and action from lawmakers and automakers. The proposed legislation by Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal is a step in the right direction to ensure the safety and protection of survivors of domestic violence. By working together with automakers and advocacy groups, there is an opportunity to create meaningful change and provide support for those facing stalking situations. Ultimately, ending the use of car tracking technology for abusive purposes is essential in safeguarding the well-being of domestic abuse victims.

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