Groups Push Digital Civil Rights

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Some civil rights groups are using the first days of the new Administration as an "inflection point" to bend the arc of tech priorities toward justice and inclusion.

"The 117th Congress must take action to ensure that technology serves all people in the United States, rather than facilitating discrimination or reinforcing existing inequities," the groups said.

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Their agenda includes privacy, content regulation, competition and broadband and their goal is a host of reforms made even more pressing by the current pandemic. "as the nation continues to navigate the COVID-19 crisis," they argue, "addressing these [issues] is vital in promoting a just, inclusive economic recovery."

They want Congress to take immediate action on tech-related issues including Internet access--Lifeline subsidy reform included--"hateful online content, immigration surveillance technology, and commercial data practices.

Among the things they want Congress to do is hold oversight hearings on "hold[ing] federal agencies accountable for prioritizing enforcement of existing civil rights laws on online platforms" and on "privacy harms, algorithmic accountability, and historically marginalized communities."

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Among those pushing that agenda are Public Knowledge, the NAACP, National Hispanic Media Coalition, and New America's Open Technology Institute.

The effort is being coordinated by digital rights group, the Civil Rights, Privacy and Technology Table.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.