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MPs urge government to tackle use of technology in DA

The Westminster government should do more to counter misuse of connected technology as latest evidence suggests most domestic abuse cases now feature spyware, says Parliament’s culture, media and sport committee.

“The surge in use of devices such as smart home security systems, baby monitors, cameras and smart speakers to monitor, harass, coerce and control victims of domestic abuse is truly chilling,” said committee chairwoman Dame Caroline Dinenage.

“The government must make it a priority to work with manufacturers to tackle this technology-facilitated abuse, which is only going to get worse in the future.”

She also commented: “While the rising popularity of connected technology has brought undoubted benefits to everyday life, the flipside is the real risk some of these gadgets pose to privacy and personal safety online.”

The committee has inquired into the potential benefits and harm of connected technology including virtual assistants and wearable fitness trackers. The resulting report calls on the government to improve skills in law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system’s response to the problem, as well as manufacturers and distributors mitigating risks through product design.

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales, Nicole Jacobs, said: “Too often, victims and survivors are expected to keep themselves safe from tech abuse, rather than tech companies taking steps to prevent harm.

“While the government has made good progress on some forms of tech abuse through the Online Safety Bill, they must ensure tech companies address all the tools that perpetrators use, including smart home devices.”

It is estimated there are nine connected devices in every household in the UK, while by 2050 there will be 24 billion interconnected devices worldwide.

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