Critics Protest Federal Domestic Violence Databank

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Domestic violence groups are protesting new federal rules that require detailed information on tens of thousands of battered women to be collected on centralized computers, says the New York Times. The critics say the arrangement could make sensitive data accessible to resourceful batterers. Such information usually is kept confidential out of concerns that the identities and locations of the women could be discovered by their abusers. “Once you put this stuff out there, the possibilities are very scary,” said Nancy Neylon of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network. “I don’t know that any head count is worth a life.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which developed the rules, says such concerns are overstated. It contends the data bases, which are intended to provide more detailed information about the homeless, can be made secure against unauthorized users. Still, advocacy groups are lobbying to have victims of domestic violence exempted from the reporting rules, which took effect Oct. 1. The rules apply to any agencies – from shelters to food pantries to counselors – that receive HUD financing and serve the homeless. Some organizations for domestic violence victims plan to disregard the requirements and will forgo federal financing if ordered to comply. Yesterday in Chicago, 70 people protested outside HUD’s offices downtown, wearing signs that read, “HUD, don’t put lives at risk,” and “Help me don’t track me.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/08/politics/08shelter.html?oref=login

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