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Privacy Barriers to Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is a viable path to economic independence, providing for flexibility and creativity in a way that builds self-confidence. For survivors of domestic violence who have faced economic abuse, entrepreneurship is even more important as a way to provide an independent source of income. However, survivors who pursue entrepreneurship face a key barrier to launching their new ventures: the lack of privacy offered by the business registration process. Entrepreneurs operating from their homes have no choice but to register with their home address, which is then made public on the business registration databases maintained by the state. Data brokers are able to pull information from public records like these and then aggregate critical information for their “people search products,” which pose a serious risk to survivors.

North Carolina’s Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) needs to be revamped to address this glaring privacy issue. Currently, the program provides a substitute address that is accepted by public agencies—private companies, however, have no obligation to accept the substitute. And the substitute address can’t be used in business filings, either. These gaps in the ACP weaken the protection as a whole—even one disclosure of a survivor’s address will seriously compromise their safety. The proposal is trifold: expand the jurisdiction and qualifications of the ACP, protect certain types of business addresses from appearing in public-facing databases, and creating a confidential micro-grant program for survivors who pursue entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship and small business ownership should be accessible to all, and key expansions of the ACP will allow that to be the case for survivors of domestic violence.

Read the research paper and full set of recommendations at:

Survivors of Domestic Violence Face Privacy Barriers in North Carolina Business Registration