Today a broad coalition of civil, human and media rights organizations released Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data, urging companies and the government to develop and use these new technologies in ways that will promote equal opportunity and equal justice. This is the first time that national civil and human rights organizations have spoken publically about the importance of privacy and big data for communities of color, women, and other historically disadvantaged groups.
With the clock ticking on the White House’s 90-day examination of how big data affects how we work and live, members of the coalition – including American Civil Liberties Union; Asian Americans Advancing Justice—AAJC; Center for Media Justice; ColorOfChange; Common Cause; Free Press; The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; NAACP; National Council of La Raza; National Hispanic Media Coalition; National Urban League; NOW Foundation; New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute and Public Knowledge – want to ensure the voices of their communities are heard.
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and spokesperson for the coalition said, “Technological progress should bring greater safety, economic opportunity, and convenience to everyone. While data is essential for documenting persistent inequality and discrimination, no one – no matter their color, ethnicity or gender – should be unfairly targeted by businesses or the government for dragnet surveillance, discriminatory decisions, or any other unwarranted intrusions. Our communities know all too well the consequences the abuse and misuse of these tools and will not be silent about the need to update our nation’s policies.”
Through these principles, the signatories highlight the growing need to protect and strengthen key civil rights protections in the face of technological change. They call for an end to high-tech profiling; urge greater scrutiny of the computerized decision-making that shapes opportunities for employment, health, education, and credit; underline the continued importance of constitutional principles of privacy and free association, especially for communities of color; call for greater individual control over personal information; and emphasize the need to protect people, especially disadvantaged groups, from the documented real-world harms that follow from inaccurate data.