UnidosUS: Congress Should Delay Privacy Rights Bill Until Civil Rights Protections Are Restored

Washington, DC—Last Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee published an updated draft of the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA) that deleted key civil rights provisions in the proposed bill. In response, Claudia Ruiz, Senior Policy Analyst for Civil Rights for UnidosUS, provided the following statement:

“UnidosUS urges Congress to delay the Energy and Commerce committee markup on the American Privacy Rights Act until the civil rights provisions are restored. Moving forward without baseline civil rights protections would create blind spots and permit discriminatory data practices to remain undetected and unchallenged.

“Legal protections have revealed patterns of algorithmic discrimination using data in consequential matters such as housing, employment and credit. But an equally large number of critical domains that use consumer data—including education, workplace surveillance, policing and others—lack appropriate anti-discrimination protections. The measure previously included these essential civil rights provisions, preventing data companies from using sensitive personal data to discriminate against consumers and requiring companies to test algorithms before they are deployed.

“Ample evidence demonstrates that commercial data can discriminate against anyone, regardless of race or ethnicity. Lawmakers’ failure to recognize Americans’ collective need for baseline fairness protections related to our data is short-sighted and—as we continue to sprint towards the mainstreaming of AI—can be potentially harmful to each of us.

“The civil rights community has been told repeatedly to wait for another day—a day that never seems to arrive. We believe that, at a minimum, the June 27 APRA hearing should be postponed to give lawmakers time to reflect on and re-incorporate these necessary provisions.”