Federal privacy legislation that protects civil rights is critical for all Americans
We should celebrate the fact that Congress is considering legislation that would give all Americans robust privacy protections. We think of civil rights as affecting only a few, but civil rights affect everyone. In addition to privacy, it’s crucial that a data protection law incorporates explicit legal safeguards against direct discrimination and indirect harms (disparate impact) to marginalized communities. The U.S. needs a law that will implement clear and meaningful civil rights safeguards. The proposed law has some shortcomings, which many have been engaged at addressing. ADPPA would modernize civil rights for the digital age: It is significantly stronger than the current frameworks in place and would update existing civil rights protections, further clarifying that digital discrimination is illegal and mandating that companies take meaningful steps to address algorithmic discrimination, not just against marginalized communities, but against children as well. Policymakers must consider what it would mean to lose this important opportunity by failing to come to the table.
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