Jefferson City — This week the Missouri Senate passed legislation that would make it easier for victims of domestic violence to recover their cell phone number from their abuser. Senate Bill 838, sponsored by State Sen. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City), received strong bipartisan support as well as praise from both industry and consumer advocate groups.
“It is great to work on issues where people can be brought together to find solutions and everybody wins, but more importantly this bill provides comfort for victims of domestic violence,” said Silvey. “What also made a huge difference on this legislation is a commitment from the industry and advocates. AT&T brought this issue forward on behalf of their customers and the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse helped to make it better, and they should be commended for their work.”
“Creating a process that helps enable victims of domestic violence to use their wireless devices for their safety and to access emotional, financial and legal support is imperative,” said John Sondag, president, AT&T Missouri. “We thank Senator Silvey for championing this legislation and are proud to be part of a coalition working to help these individuals and their family members.”
“SB838 allows victims to maintain their cell phone numbers and service separate from their abusers – often a key communications tool to safely create a buffer and maintain life-connections needed when escaping domestic violence,” said Colleen Coble, CEO of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
The legislation would allow full orders of protection to include provisions so victims could retain their cell phone numbers and services separate from family plans with their abusers. The court’s order would permit a wireless service provider to transfer the victim’s, and the victim’s minor children’s, cell phone service to a new account where they can retain their wireless services and associated telephone numbers
In addition, the legislation prohibits certain information regarding the petitioner from being made available to the original account holder. Once the billing responsibility and rights of a wireless telephone number have been transferred, the petitioner assumes all financial responsibility for the transferred wireless telephone number.
SB838 now moves to the State House for consideration.