34 civil rights, consumer and privacy groups release privacy principles

Call for comprehensive federal legislation to protect consumer privacy

Contact: Linda Sherry, 202-544-3088

Today, 34 civil rights, consumer, and privacy organizations join in releasing public interest principles for privacy legislation, because the public needs and deserves strong and comprehensive federal legislation to protect their privacy and afford meaningful redress.

Irresponsible data practices lead to a broad range of harms, including discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare, and advertising. They also lead to data breaches and loss of individuals’ control over personal information. Existing enforcement mechanisms fail to hold data processors accountable and provide little-to-no relief for privacy violations.

The privacy principles outline four concepts that any meaningful data protection legislation should incorporate at a minimum:

  • Privacy protections must be strong, meaningful, and comprehensive.
  • Data practices must protect civil rights, prevent unlawful discrimination, and advance equal opportunity.
  • Governments at all levels should play a role in protecting and enforcing privacy rights.
  • Legislation should provide redress for privacy violations.

These public interest privacy principles include a framework providing guidelines for policymakers considering how to protect the privacy of all Americans effectively while also offering meaningful redress. They follow three days of Federal Trade Commission hearings about big data, competition, and privacy as well as the comment deadline on “Developing the Administration’s Approach to Privacy,” a request for comment from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration as the agency works to develop privacy policy recommendations for the Trump Administration, and ongoing work at the National Institute for Standards and Technology to develop a privacy risk framework.

The groups urge members of Congress to pass privacy legislation that ensures fairness, prevents discrimination, advances equal opportunity, protects free expression, and facilitates trust between the public and companies that collect their personal data.

Linda Sherry, director of national priorities at Consumer Action, said: “Our country has floundered far too long without strong federal regulations governing data collection, retention, use and sharing. These privacy principles, developed by a coalition of leading consumer, civil rights and privacy organizations, are offered as a framework to guide Congress in protecting consumers from the many harms that can befall them when they are given little or no choice in safeguarding their data, and companies have few, if any, restrictions on how they use that information.”

As well as Consumer Action, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, Access Humboldt, Access Now, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Democracy & Technology, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Media Justice, Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, Color of Change, Common Cause, Common Sense Kids Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Customer Commons, Demand Progress, Free Press Action Fund, Human Rights Watch, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Media Alliance, Media Mobilizing Project, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Consumer Law Center, National Consumers League, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Oakland Privacy, Open MIC (Open Media and Information Companies Initiative), Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, and United Church of Christ, OC Inc. signed the principles.

The principles can be found here.

 

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