Today, CDT joins over a dozen leading civil rights and technology organizations in releasing a civil rights, privacy, and technology oversight agenda for the 117th Congress. In the agenda, the Civil Rights, Privacy, and Technology Table lays out high-priority areas of concern to help guide Congress in ensuring that technology serves all people in the United States, rather than facilitating discrimination or reinforcing existing inequities.
The agenda builds on the Table’s October 2020 Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data, which are designed to address current threats to civil rights and serve as a proactive guide for designing and using technology in ways that affirmatively promote justice and equity. CDT also recently called for the new White House and Congress to prioritize civil rights and civil liberties in technology policy as an essential part of protecting democracy.
Civil Rights, Privacy, and Technology Recommended 2021 Oversight Priorities for the 117th Congress
In recent years, Congress has used its oversight powers to highlight the discriminatory impacts of technology, enforce relevant civil rights protections, reduce disparate impacts, and build a strong evidence base to guide reform and accountability efforts. Moving forward, however, far more significant, sustained, and effective oversight action is necessary, especially as Congress moves to update existing protections and establish modern rules for these technologies. While these legislative reforms are underway, Congress should ensure oversight activities use existing authorities to protect civil rights and promote justice. This work is essential to protecting our democracy. And as the nation continues to navigate the COVID-19 crisis, addressing these questions is vital in promoting a just, inclusive economic recovery.
The 117th Congress must take action to ensure that technology serves all people in the United States, rather than facilitating discrimination or reinforcing existing inequities. We, the undersigned 14 public interest organizations, have developed this potential oversight agenda to help guide Congress in achieving that mission.
While the priorities laid out here do not reflect the full agenda of all undersigned organizations, and they should be read to complement legislative work to address these challenges, they represent high priority areas of concern for many organizations recommending this agenda. We believe that these goals can and should be accomplished in 2021, and we are excited to collaborate with you on these efforts on behalf of the communities and principles we represent.