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Comments Due:  April l2, 2023
Reply Comments Due: May 12, 2023

On February 17, 2023, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to implement key provisions in the Safe Connections Act to support survivors of domestic abuse and other related crimes seeking to maintain critical connections with friends, family, and support networks.  On March 13, 2023, this item was published in the Federal Register, establishing the  comment dates.

The NPRM seeks comment on proposed rules requiring mobile service providers to separate the line of a survivor of domestic violence (and other related crimes and abuse), and any individuals in the care of the survivor, from a mobile service contract shared with an abuser within two business days after receiving a request from the survivor.  To protect the privacy of calls and text messages to hotlines and emergency assistance resources, the Commission also seeks comment on a proposal to require service providers to omit records of calls or text messages to certain hotlines from consumer-facing call and text message logs. The FCC also seeks comment on designating either the Lifeline program or the Affordable Connectivity Program as a means for providing eligible survivors suffering financial hardship with emergency communications support for up to six months.

The Safe Connections Act directs covered providers to “offer a survivor the ability to submit a line separation request through secure remote means that are "easily navigable, provided that remote options are commercially available and technically feasible.” 

With respect to accessibility, the NPRM seeks comment on:
•  How to make the survivor’s request process for line separation “easily navigable” for individuals with disabilities;
•  To what extent should covered providers be required to make available remote means that are accessible to individuals with disabilities; and 
•  Whether the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) already requires that all or certain means for submitting line separation requests be accessible for individuals with disabilities.

Interested parties may file comments by accessing the Electronic Comment Filing System at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings. All filings must reference WC Docket Nos. 22-238, 11-42, and 21-450. People with disabilities who need assistance to file comments may request assistance by email to FCC504@fcc.gov.  

Link to the News Release and NPRM:
URL:  https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-looks-help-domestic-violence-survivors-access-connectivity-0

For more information about this proceeding, please contact Chris Laughlin, Competition Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau, (202) 418-2193, email Chris.Laughlin@fcc.gov.  Individuals who use videophones and are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) may call the FCC’s ASL Consumer Support Line at (844) 432-2275 (videophone).

Monday, March 13, 2023