The UK’s culture, media and sport committee has warned that devices such as smart home security systems are being used in domestic abuse, facilitating coercion and control of victims. The committee’s inquiry last year revealed that most domestic abuse cases now involve some kind of technology, such as spyware, to monitor victims. The committee’s report urges the government to prioritize tackling tech-facilitated abuse, noting that the criminal justice response is currently inadequate.
Recommendations include training police to better handle tech abuse, increasing awareness of specialist services for violence against women and girls, protecting the privacy and rights of children, and empowering users, particularly children, to exercise their rights over personal data. In June, the government announced amendments to the online safety bill to guide tech companies in reducing online abuse.
Paul Scully, the minister for technology and the digital economy, pledged that the government will take action to protect children online, while Dame Caroline Dinenage, chair of the CMS committee, emphasized the need for collaboration with manufacturers and better support for victims.
Refuge, a charity for women and children, expressed its support for the committee’s recommendations, stressing the urgency of the issue. The government is investing over £230 million to prevent offending, support victims, and pursue perpetrators.