Defending a Survivor’s Right to PrivacyJanuary 21, 2020 0 comments
Survivors’ voices, needs, concerns and decisions drive CALCASA’s work. Recent actions by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unintentionally risks the privacy of sexual violence survivors. CALCASA has responded to maintain our commitment to support their healing, access to justice and right to safety in which we are able to prevent sexual assault from occurring in the first place. In December 2019, Uber released the first of its kind Public Safety Report. The report sought to classify reports of sexual harassment, assault and violence over the course of two years in order to identify areas of concern and propose plans for improvement. Uber worked closely with a number of national partners such as RALIANCE, to promote public awareness and start a necessary debate about how safety outcomes can be improved.
About a week later, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which regulates transport network companies in the state, issued a memo seeking additional information. While requests for information generally are within the scope of CPUC’s oversight power, the timing of this request suggests it is a response to the release of Uber’s public safety report. Most alarmingly, the memo from CPUC asked for personal details regarding events of sexual assault referenced in the report, including information that could publicly identify survivors.
CALCASA submitted a letter in response to the CPUC’s request which highlights that requiring greater disclosure of details of victims of sexual assault could jeopardize the safety of survivors. “It would share painful details about the assault, and other information (like time and place of the incident) that, even if the victims’ names were withheld, could still identify and endanger survivors of sexual assault.” Our statement goes further to stress the importance for survivors to be in control of how and when and with whom their story is shared. Disclosing such identifiable information without the survivors’ consent could cause further harm and disincentivize individuals to report sexual assault.
The Safety Report issued by Uber in early December is a good first step but certainly not the final step. While well intended, the CPUC request for witness information counterintuitively hinders public safety. CALCASA is interested in working with CPUC to develop systems that will promote our shared desire to prevent sexual violence.
Click here to read our full response to the CPUC:
Click here to learn about Uber’s Public Safety Report posted on December 5, 2019:
Recent actions by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unintentionally risk the privacy of sexual violence survivors. CALCASA has responded to maintain our commitment to support their healing, access to justice and right to safety.