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Technology-Facilitated Domestic and Family Violence: Protecting the Privacy and Safety of Victim-Survivors


Technology and privacy can be a double-edged sword for those experiencing domestic and family violence (DFV). Technology can be a mechanism for abuse and coercive control but is also offered to victim-survivors as a ‘solution’ to reduce risk and protect their safety. In theory, the law protects the privacy rights of victim-survivors, but poor practice and lapses in security mean that their information is often shared with those who seek to harm them. Perpetrators, particularly alleged perpetrators, also have a right to privacy, making it more difficult to protect victim-survivors. This paper analyses technology-facilitated domestic and family violence (TFDFV) through a privacy lens—drawing on privacy and DFV literature (and the little that lies at the intersection) and doctrinal analysis of Australian and New Zealand privacy and related laws applied to TFDFV. Recommendations are provided to better protect victim-survivors at the intersection of safety, technology and privacy. While the paper focuses on the Australian and New Zealand context, it hopes to motivate similar questions in other jurisdictions.

Published: 2022-05-24
Pages:1 to 17
Section: Articles
How to Cite
Bennett Moses, Lyria, Jan Breckenridge, Joshua Gibson, and Georgia Lyons. 2022. “Technology-Facilitated Domestic and Family Violence: Protecting the Privacy and Safety of Victim-Survivors”. Law, Technology and Humans 4 (1):1-17.

Author Biographies

UNSW Sydney
Australia Australia

Lyria is Director of the Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation and a Professor and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Law and Justice at UNSW Sydney. She is also co-lead of the Law and Policy theme in the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre and Faculty lead in the UNSW Institute for Cyber Security. Lyria's research explores issues around the relationship between technology and law, including the types of legal issues that arise as technology changes, how these issues are addressed in Australia and other jurisdictions, and the problems of treating “technology” as an object of regulation. Recently, she has been working on legal and policy issues associated with the use of artificial intelligence (with a book co-authored with Dr Michael Guihot and published by LexisNexis on Artificial Intelligence, Robots and the Law and ongoing work on standards through Standards Australia and IEEE), the appropriate legal framework for enhancing cyber security (through the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre), and oversight for law enforcement intelligence (Canadian SSHRC partnership grant). Lyria is a member of the editorial boards for Technology and Regulation; Law, Technology and Humans; Journal of Cross-Disciplinary Research in Computational Law; and Law in Context. She is on the NSW Information and Privacy Advisory Committee, the Executive Committee of the Australian Chapter of the IEEE’s Society for the Social Implications of Technology, and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.

Jan Breckenridge is a Professor and Head of the School of Social Sciences and the Co-Convener of the UNSW Gendered Violence Research Network, UNSW.  She is also a Research Fellow of the UNSW Australian Human Rights Institute (AHRI). Jan has undertaken extensive work and research in the areas of gendered violence. Select research areas include domestic, family and sexual violence and workplace responses; economic and financial abuse; homelessness and the potential of safe at home programs for women and children affected by domestic and family violence. Jan’s research is oriented towards maximum impact in innovative social policy development, service provision and outcome measurement of effectiveness. Jan leads an evidence informed knowledge-exchange stream ‘Gendered Violence and Organisations’, which provides expert advice to government, private and third sector organisations on best practice policies and organisational response to employees and the management of customers affected by domestic and family violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Josh Gibson is a PhD Candidate with the Australian Human Rights Institute (AHRI) and the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law located at the Faculty of Law, UNSW (Sydney). Josh researches in the areas of public law and human rights. Josh's PhD is entitled: 'Amici Curiae and the Australian High Court: A Legal Mobilisation Approach', which considers how and why civic society engage as amicus in the High Court. Josh is being supervised by Professor Gabrielle Appleby and Associate Professor Sean Brennan

More generally, Josh's research interests include better understanding ways in which the law may be used to achieve social change, and how and why individuals decide to engage with legal institutions. Josh has a wealth of research experience assisting with a variety of projects, and most recently was a lead author for the AHRI's project Privacy, Technology and Domestic and Family Violence: What is happening in Australia and New Zealand?. Josh also has considerable teaching experience, having taught Constitutional Law, Public Law, Human Rights, and Legal Research across UNSW, Macquarie University and Western Sydney University. Josh was the 2019 Higher Degree Research Faculty Representative for the Faculty of Law at UNSW. 

Josh is an admitted lawyer to the Supreme Court of NSW. 

Georgia Lyons is a Research Assistant at the Gendered Violence Research Network in the School of Social Sciences, UNSW Sydney. Georgia works on a range of projects aimed at improving policy and outcomes for individuals and communities affected by gender-based violence including domestic and family violence, sexual assault and abuse and sexual harassment.   

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2652-4074