WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D–California 18) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D–California 19) introduced a comprehensive privacy bill to protect internet users from the worst harms of data collection and processing.
The Online Privacy Act includes necessary civil-rights protections that prevent using personal information to deny protected classes opportunities in traditionally protected economic categories like employment, finance, health care, credit, insurance, housing and education.
Earlier this year, Free Press Action and the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released draft legislation addressing these issues by applying time-tested civil-rights and anti-discrimination principles to online businesses. The organizations explained that privacy is a civil right and people must be allowed to fight data-driven discrimination that exacerbates inequality and segregation in the United States. Sen. Ed Markey’s Privacy Bill of Rights Act also includes many of these same essential civil-rights protections.
Free Press Action Senior Policy Counsel Gaurav Laroia made the following statement:
“With the Online Privacy Act in the House, we now have major comprehensive privacy bills in both chambers that include much-needed protections against discrimination in economic opportunities. We thank Representatives Eshoo and Lofgren for introducing this important legislation.
“The federal government must be able to set rules of the road for how data can be used and to protect people against very real harms to their privacy. Misuses of private information chill free expression, cause reputational harms, inflict harmful price discrimination, and create other adverse impacts to people’s civil rights.
“Many of these data practices have disproportionate impacts on people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, religious minorities and other marginalized groups. The data economy has been largely unregulated, leaving people with little recourse when faced with these violations.
“The advent of the internet has created near-boundless wealth for those that have found a way to monetize our actions across the web. It’s far past time for the United States to adopt privacy regulations that protect people’s rights and give individuals — not corporations — control over how personal data is used.”