Public hearing for sexual abuse survivors bill

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Senator Mary Camacho Torres introduced Bill 242-36, relative to the transfer or release of family violence victims from shared or family wireless phone plans.

PNC’s Destiny Cruz has more…

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According to Senator Camacho Torres, bill 242, if enacted, will allow for victims of violence to opt-out of fees, penalties, or the account owner’s permission. Moreover, under this bill, the opt-out request submission must be in writing, along with a valid police report, an order of protection, or an assigned affidavit from a licensed medical provider, mental health provider, social worker, or employee of the court.

Furthermore, the bill intends to assist victims of violence by authorizing the Court to require telecommunications service providers to transfer billing authority and all rights to the wireless number or numbers of a shared plan to a petitioner who has been granted an order of protection or removed or release a petitioner from a shared wireless plan and assign a substitute telephone number or numbers.

In her opening remarks, Senator Camacho Torres explained the bill’s necessity–stating that controlling a victims’ ability to communicate is one of the most coercive tactics in the books and remains a hidden risk for survivors of domestic violence. Furthermore, she referenced that the Guam Police Department has logged over 1,000 domestic or family violence calls per year over the past six years.

Torres states, “For instance, under most shared phone plans, individuals cannot separate their phone number or be released from the plan without the account owner’s permission- and this task may be difficult or dangerous when the perpetrator of family violence is the primary account holder. Abusers may use this shared account to access victims’ call records, or harvest their text messages, or even track their location.”

Among those who testified regarding bill 242 included Sharon Davis, Vice President of Customer Experience at GTA. Though Davis stated that she is quote “really happy that the legislature is raising an issue such as this for the folks in our community, she said in part, she is “unclear how the bill would make it easier for someone in a quick situation to change their number.”

Moreover, according to Davis, there are federal laws to abide by. For example, Davis mentioned that the FCC CPNI law currently protects account holders, including any changes made to their account. Therefore, she said in her view, the current CPNI law protects the account’s information and would require GTA to release information to the account holder, which is a concern.

In closing, Senator Camacho Torres said that she would continue to receive testimonies and make necessary amendments to clarify the piece of legislation better.