FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York, NY -- Today ColorOfChange joins a diverse coalition of civil and human rights organizations, media justice advocates, and good government groups in publicly releasing a core set of Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data. The Principles are intended to inform corporations, law enforcement, and state and federal policymakers about the critical impacts on civil rights and racial justice of the massive, largely unseen, and almost totally unregulated collection of personal data that happens every time we go online.
Release of the Principles is particularly timely given the White House's upcoming report on Big Data and the Future of Privacy. The Obama administration has actively sought input from the tech industry and civil liberties groups — but not civil rights advocates — in shaping the report.
While unfortunately framing the issues of privacy, online surveillance, and tracking of personally identifiable information as primarily consumer issues, President Obama's Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, released in 2012, correctly highlights that there is no clear statement of basic privacy principles informing the collection of Internet users' personal information or the dissemination of that information to third parties.
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org, said: "When we focus so intently on the role of the Internet in fostering commercial enterprise, and conceive of data collection and privacy questions as only impacting businesses and consumers, we're missing a huge piece of the puzzle. A free and open Internet is crucial to our ability to organize, seek information, and communicate online without a corporate filter. ColorOfChange started from one email sent to a few thousand people in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and today our organization relies on the Internet to reach our nearly 1 million members nationwide on a range of issues impacting the lives of Black individuals, families and communities.
"The massive collection and commodification of our personal information has created a shadow credit system, inviting digital redlining that undermines the hard-fought gains of the Civil Rights Act as well as federal fair credit reporting rules. And the history of surveillance in this country, from COINTELPRO targeting of Civil Rights Movement leaders in the 1960s to recent revelations that the DEA reverse-engineered probable cause in drug cases to cover up unconstitutional collusion with an out-of-control NSA, demonstrates a need for rigorous privacy protections that keep pace with continually evolving technology and provide safeguards against government abuses."
ColorOfChange is proud to join with the American Civil Liberties Union; Asian Americans Advancing Justice—AAJC; Center for Media Justice; 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 in releasing the Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data.
With more than 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.