Stop Leaving Cell Phone Consumers Stranded in Life-or-Death Emergencies

Target: Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of Consumer Technology Association

Goal: Invest in location sharing technology that would save lives during emergencies.

A university student was found dead from flu complications five hours after he called 911 for help. Similar tragedies have happened frequently for years across the United States because of outdated cell phone technology. In a country that prides itself on its technological advances, such life-threatening and avoidable lapses in consumer protection cannot stand.

In the case of Yeming Shen, the student owned an overseas-manufactured cell phone that did not provide information about his location. Since the young man could not be understood by local 911 operators, rescue workers spent crucial hours going door-to-door in an attempt to pin down his whereabouts…hours that ultimately cost him his life. The lack of location identification is by no means exclusive to foreign phone manufacturers, however. Studies show that nearly all of the major mobile phone providers in America use outdated technology that does not contain important location sharing features that other companies like Uber utilize. In too many cases, 911 operators are only able to track calls to a cell phone tower, which may be located miles away from a desperate caller.

If a person is in distress and unable to speak or convey a location, he or she is often relying on technology that simply provides little to no aid. The FCC has implemented new rules requiring tech updates, but a slow rollout and plentiful exceptions to these rules will continue to put lives in danger. America’s major companies need to step up.

Sign this petition to demand these profiteers make consumer protection a key part of their bottom line.


Dear Mr. Shapiro,

When a news organization last contacted the Consumer Technology Association in regard to a death that happened after four mobile phone users called 911 to no ultimate avail, you had no response. When the FCC attempted to hold the major carriers you represent accountable for outdated location sharing technology, you lobbied for loopholes. We demand you answer to the consumers who keep you and your clients in business.

You know that 911 call centers across the country are handicapped by a uniform standard to which they must adhere. You know they lack the funds and the resources to implement the changes your clients made unavoidable. As these companies rake in unprecedented profits, they will not expend even the barest investment to replace decades-old technology. Vital location sharing built-in features could and would save countless lives. You helped make this country a cell phone culture, and now you must take responsibility for the conditions you have created.

For once, lobby for the consumers. Encourage investment in needed technology immediately, no exceptions. Show loyalty and regard to the individuals who are making you billions.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Nadbashe

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