WASHINGTON–In response to congressional leaders announcing bipartisan legislation that would prohibit the use of personal data to discriminate on the basis of protected characteristics, David Brody, Managing Attorney of the Digital Justice Initiative at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released the following statement:
“Privacy rights are civil rights. The Lawyers’ Committee is encouraged by this bipartisan effort to protect our personal data and curb the rampant data-driven discrimination that occurs due to a lack of privacy protections. We need Congress to act now to ensure that everyone has an equal right to use the internet free from discrimination. That starts with a robust privacy bill with civil rights protections, substantive data protections and a robust enforcement regime.
“Now is the time to come together, work together, and deliver results for all Americans.
“When individuals don’t have control of their own data, it opens up a world of possibilities for that data to be weaponized against them. For example, algorithms determining eligibility for essential needs such as housing, employment, credit, healthcare, education, and public accommodations are often discriminatory. The ramifications of these biases disproportionately impact Black and brown communities, as well as other marginalized and disenfranchised groups.
“The Lawyer’s Committee looks forward to working with both Republican and Democratic leaders to push this legislation over the finish line, and secure long overdue data privacy and online civil rights protections for the marginalized communities that are most vulnerable to harm.”
The Digital Justice Initiative at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law works at the intersection of racial justice, technology, and privacy to address predatory commercial data practices, discriminatory algorithms, invasions of privacy, disinformation, and online hate that disproportionately targets and harms communities of color, especially Black Americans, immigrants, women of color, and LGBTQ people of color. The Lawyers’ Committee chairs the Commercial Data Practices Working Group: a coalition of civil society organizations who work on tech policy legislation and regulation, and privacy and civil rights matters in particular. The organization has advocated for online civil rights and federal privacy legislation for years, bringing together coalitions of civil rights, tech policy, and consumer protection advocates. Brody led the effort to include civil rights protections within the federal privacy bill text and looks forward to continuing this work alongside congressional leaders.
Last week, the Lawyers’ Committee led a group of 57 organizations—including major civil rights orgs—to urge Congress to pass privacy legislation. The full letter can be found at this link.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.