Centering Civil Rights in the Privacy Debate


This event is part of a series highlighting emerging issues in the privacy debate. Read the accompanying report here.

After 20 years of corporations failing to self-regulate on privacy, strong federal privacy legislation may finally be in sight. As privacy scandals continue to ravage the front page, and states continue to pass privacy legislation in the absence of federal action, Congress is under more and more pressure to pass privacy protections. Thus far, the conversation has focused disproportionately on transparency and preempting state laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act.

However, these discussions have left out a crucial issue: the use of data to discriminate against people of color. Exploiting personal information disproportionately harms marginalized communities. Privacy abuses enable voter suppression, digital redlining, discriminatory policing, retail discrimination, digital inequity, amplification of white supremacy, identity theft, and the endangerment of personal safety. Unfortunately, these harms have been largely ignored by Congress so far—over the course of several privacy hearings in both chambers over the past year, very few civil rights experts have testified.

It is vital that the privacy discussion center civil rights issues. Congress can address harms caused by discrimination, and it should prioritize addressing those harms when drafting legislation.

Join New America’s Open Technology Institute and Color of Change in a discussion about the importance of focusing the privacy debate around civil rights, the harms marginalized communities experience, and how to solve them.

Reception to follow.

Opening Remarks:

Francella Ochillo,
Vice President of Policy & General Counsel, National Hispanic Media Coalition

Panel Participants:

Gaurav Laroia, @GauravLaroia
Policy Counsel, Free Press

Erin Shields
National Field Organizer, Internet Rights, Center for Media Justice

Miranda Bogen, @mbogen
Senior Policy Analyst, Upturn

Alisa Valentin, @AlisaValentin
Communications Justice Fellow, Public Knowledge

Priscilla González
Campaigns Director, Mijente

Panel Moderator:

Brandi Collins-Dexter, @BrandingBrandi
Senior Campaign Director, Color of Change

Follow the conversation online using #privacycivilrights and following @OTI.