National Data Privacy Legislation Must Include Civil Rights Protections, Enhanced Punishments for Violations

Nov. 13, 2018

Statement of Kristen Strader, Campaign Coordinator, Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert

Note: Today, 34 civil rights, consumer and privacy organizations released basic requirements that must be included in any relevant legislation.

The nation’s technology giants want to control the rules that govern how they handle consumers’ data, yet those very same companies have proven that they cannot protect that data and have built business models around improperly exploiting it. From the Equifax data breach to election interference and daily discrimination in advertising – for example, targeting low-income people with predatory payday loans – data companies have escaped accountability for far too long. That must change.

Any privacy legislation that the new Congress brings forward must put consumers first and be packaged with strong enforcement capabilities that punish companies when they put citizens’ privacy or civil rights at risk. And it must not, contrary to the aspirations of the Big Tech companies, pre-empt state efforts to afford greater protections to their citizens. The coalition principles should be considered a minimum standard toward comprehensive privacy legislation.

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