Privacy Plus+

Privacy, Technology and Perspective

A Post Intended for Anyone Leaving an Abusive Relationship. This is the Privacy Plus+ that we hope no one ever has to read. We offer it in the context of recent events and with solidarity and sympathy to those who are leaving an abusive relationships. We hope this post can be resource on technology issues that impact people’s lives and safety—issues like  “stalker-ware” or “spyware,” online harassment or unauthorized access to accounts. Here is what we suggest:

1.     Take inventory of your devices and online accounts, and then take action to secure them. Start by inventorying every electronic device you have – your computers, laptops, smartphones, X-boxes, and Ring doorbells and any other “smart” device.  Change the passwords, run antivirus scans, and delete any apps that you don’t recognize. Also disable everything that tracks you – Location Services, Find My iPhone, shared Google accounts, and any other types of devices or accounts that involve location sharing. You should also change the passwords for your online accounts.  For specific tips, here is an article on the point:

“7 Tech Things you need to do when leaving an abusive relationship”

https://blog.avast.com/prevent-stalkerware-in-ex-relationships-avast

2.     Check your bank accounts.  Get in touch with your bank(s) and other financial institutions. If necessary, cancel joint credit cards and accounts and set up new ones in your own name, and freeze your credit with one of the major credit reporting agencies.  If you have creditors, ask them what help or relief may be available to you as an innocent co-obligee.

3.     Deal with social media. In event that you are the victim of abusive postings online, the major social media outlets claim to have policies, protocols, and redlines for abusive postings. Enforcement may be time-consuming, spotty, and resistant, sometimes behind First Amendment claims and other times because the platforms fear attacks over censorship more than they value protection of innocent third-parties. Try anyway. There may be ways, and there are places to go for help. For example, see the following article:

“End Online Harassment”

https://iheartmob.org/how-it-works 

4.     Remember that the court system is on your side.  Texas and many other states have enacted “revenge porn” statutes criminalizing the use of private photographs for abusive purposes.  The details can be complex and the statute has often been thought to be somewhat hemmed in by first amendment and other issues.  But the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (its highest court for criminal matters) has recently held that Texas’s revenge porn statute is indeed constitutional.  You can read the case by clicking on the following link:

https://search.txcourts.gov/SearchMedia.aspx?MediaVersionID=9e7f501c-76b1-470d-abc4-b5d6d51c22ea&coa=coscca&DT=OPINION&MediaID=cc3f7852-56ae-4b7d-beb9-2768eda89622

So if you believe you have been the victim of the particularly cowardly offense of “revenge porn,” don’t hesitate to reach out to the local authorities.  To see the Texas statute, click on the following link:

https://texas.public.law/statutes/tex._penal_code_section_21.16  

And if violence to you or a loved one is an issue, never hesitate to go to the police and courts.  See the following article:

“DIY Cybersecurity for Domestic Violence”

https://hackblossom.org/domestic-violence/#safety 

A final note:  We haven’t vetted the backgrounds of these sites or the organizations who are responsible for them. But we do know there are an increasing number of groups who are vitally interested in this topic and doing increasingly good and important work. Go, find help, in more applicable detail for you. In Dallas, Genesis Women’s Shelter is a prominent service provider in this area, and a link to their website follows: https://www.genesisshelter.org/.

Hosch & Morris, PLLC is a boutique law firm dedicated to data privacy and protection, cybersecurity, the Internet and technology. Open the Future℠