The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law applauds the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act, proposed today by Senator Maria Cantwell, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Brian Schatz, and Senator Ed Markey. This comprehensive data privacy bill prioritizes the protection of civil rights and addresses the impact of discriminatory data practices on people of color and other marginalized communities.

“Exploitative data practices and black box algorithms often cause harm to marginalized communities, such as exacerbating discrimination in housing, employment, credit, or education, ”said David Brody, Counsel and Senior Fellow for Privacy & Technology. “Congress needs to act to stop data-driven discrimination and ensure that civil rights laws apply evenly to both the online and offline economies.”

The Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act includes a number of important provisions necessary to protect online civil rights, including:

  • A prohibition of the use of personal data to discriminate in employment, housing, credit, education, or public accommodations on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, familial status, biometric information, lawful source of income, or disability.
  • A requirement that algorithmic decision-making systems undergo regular assessments for bias and discrimination.
  • Individual rights to access, correct, delete, and port one’s own information.
  • Data minimization, transparency, and data security requirements to safeguard personal information and provide accountability.
  • A prohibition of forced arbitration agreements; compelled waivers of legal rights deny injured victims their day in court.  
  • Robust enforcement authority for the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.
  • A private right of action, so that individuals have the ability to vindicate their own rights. A private right of action is essential because, historically, marginalized communities have not been able to rely upon government actors to protect their rights.
  • A preservation of state civil rights and consumer protection laws, to ensure that new federal legislation does not undercut strong existing protections at the state level.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Free Press Action have released a model bill proposing comprehensive privacy reforms that prioritizes redressing discriminatory uses of personal data.

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.”  The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.  For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.

Contact: Stanley Augustin, Lawyers’ Committee, [email protected] or 202-662-8327