New technologies are developing rapidly and thoughtful applications are outpaced. As per the University of Pennsylvania, There are many consequences for the safety of women through new tech and apps.
It is reclaimed that 75% of the users on the Internet who are female had experienced Igenderbased hostility online, ranging from harassment to threats of physical violence. For partners, acquaintances, and strangers to harass women, there are multiple apps which makes easier. Women can easily be protected from all the violent interactions by using smartphones and some wearable devices with location tracking and emergency notifications.
While about how the women can easily protect themselves from all kind of violence but this is the most disturbing conclusion, they were far more likely to instruct women on how to alter their own behavior to avoid violence, rather than discuss how the tech is accountable for perpetrating violence. While advice about protecting oneself is never a bad thing, this tends to put both the pressure and the blame on women when they are the victims of online harassment. According to the research team:
Women are always said that they should change their behavior online but negligible attention is given to tech companies responsibilities. Of the 98 products identified, most typically wearable device or app were described as protecting women from sexual or physical assault. The products are marketed, with little evidence, as a way for women to protect themselves from assault.
The two technologies that came up most frequently in the articles the researchers analyzed were mobile phones and wearable devices. They were most frequently credited with the ability to prevent a sexual or physical assault. However, location services on these devices can be easily exploited particularly by abusive partners to monitor and stalk women. In addition, spyware allows abusers to surveillance and steal information about passwords, search histories, photos, and emails. Over 30% of articles discussed the use of technology to post images or videos without a woman's consent.
Studies on cyberstalking tend to focus on teenagers and college-aged women, with 15% of teens and ¾ of college undergrads reporting cyber partner abuse (though definitions vary between studies and make conclusions more difficult to measure). This kind of crime can lead to depression, antisocial behavior, poor self-esteem, and anxiety among women. The authors note that:
Some assert that cyber violence actually might be more damaging than in-person abuse because it has a wide audience, can be anonymous, and is insufficiently regulated.
And it's not just obvious tech that allows partners and acquaintances to harass women. According to research from University College London devices such as voice-activated home assistants, thermostats, and webcams had been used to record actions or even change the physical environment of a victim, such as a temperature and humidity levels, to make them think they are going mad. But even in London, where there are numerous advocacy organizations devoted to providing support for victims of abuse (of all genders), there is very little pressure on technology companies to take responsibility for the uses of their products or pressure to create legislation for its the lawful and ethical use.
There are positive uses of this technology as well. While the authors state that little attention has been given to how technology can be used to enhance women's safety and support victims, the Internet and mobile devices do give women access to support services and networks as well as information on safety.
But the key message here is that while technology can enhance women's safety, online information typically puts the safety on women to protect themselves from abuse. According to the researchers:
About one-third of the protection articles discussed using technology to prevent cyberstalking and nearly all emphasized how women should alter their use of technology to defend against the abuse. Few addressed the responsibility of tech companies to reduce the problem of misuse.
If technology and policy are truly going to protect women from violence, they must abandon norms of victim blaming and putting the responsibility of protection on women and instead target the people who stalk as well as the tech companies whose devices and software can easily be exploited to harm women.
It should go without saying that it is never the responsibility of a victim to change their behavior to protect themselves from harassment or violence. While the responsibility for harassment rests on the perpetrator, tech companies can also work harder to recognize their role in perpetrating violence against their customers and find ways to denounce, block, and cooperate in the creation of new policies that protect everyone.