Groups Call for Civil Rights Considerations in Privacy Legislation

As Congress gets set to begin hearings on privacy legislation, a coalition of civil rights and civil liberties groups released a letter to House and Senate Committee leaders with jurisdiction over privacy legislation “to ensure that civil rights retain a fundamental place in the ongoing online privacy debate, hearings, and legislation in your committees.”

“Civil rights protections have existed in brick-and-mortar commerce for decades.  It is time to ensure they apply to the internet economy as well.”

The coalition called for

  • An end to High-Tech Discriminatory Profiling
  • Fairness in computerized decisionmaking
  • Preserve constitutional protections to ensure that government databases not be used to undermine core legal protections, including those of privacy and freedom of association.
  • Enhance user control over their personal information.
  • Protect people from inaccurate data and permit users to correct inaccurate data.

The coalition stressed that

Platforms and other online services should not be permitted to use consumer data to discriminate against protected classes or deny them opportunities in commerce, housing, and employment, or full participation in our democracy.  Protecting privacy in the era of big data means protecting against uses of consumer information that concentrate harms on marginalized communities while concentrating profits elsewhere.

The coalition letter is below.