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AI Policy & Governance, Equity in Civic Technology, Free Expression, Government Surveillance, Privacy & Data

CDT Joins The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in Announcing 2020 Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data

Today, the Center for Democracy & Technology is pleased to join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and dozens of other leading civil rights and technology advocacy groups in announcing the 2020 Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data

In a world where daily life is increasingly shaped by rapidly advancing technologies that rely on big data to make decisions, the civil rights of vulnerable communities are particularly at risk. These principles are designed to address current threats to civil rights, including surveillance by both the public and private sectors, and disinformation on social media platforms designed to manipulate or suppress voter participation. We hope the principles will serve as a proactive guide for designing and using technology in ways that affirmatively promote justice and equity.

The 2020 principles include: 

  • Ending high-tech profiling;
  • Ensuring just outcomes in sensitive automated decisions;
  • Preserving constitutional principles;
  • Ensuring that technology serves everyone;
  • Defining responsible use of personal information and enhancing individual rights; and
  • Making systems transparent and accountable.

The Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data were first released in 2014, and the 2020 principles build on the prior edition to recognize the importance of technology in delivering justice to people historically subject to discrimination. They also go further in recognizing the differences between the vast amount of personal data available to companies and governments, and the tiny amount of information available to the public about that data and about how companies and governments are using it. Together, the principles were created to meet the acute need for legal protections to ensure that technology is designed and used in ways that respect civil rights, preserve privacy, ensure transparency, and hold both governments and companies accountable for harm.

For a full description of the 2020 principles, please visit