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To protect digital rights, Biden-Harris administration must reflect diversity of the American experience

November 17, 2020 — Access Now joined a coalition of 32 civil society organizations in calling on agency review teams for the incoming Biden-Harris administration to prioritize civil rights and technology equities in filling agency positions.

The letter states that there is an urgent need for new protections in the United States (Access Now’s priorities are here) to ensure that technology is designed and used in ways that respects civil rights, preserves privacy, ensures transparency, and holds companies and the government to account. Therefore, it is critical that agencies create a regulatory environment that encourages companies to design tools with equity impacts in mind.

“It’s high time that every government agency incorporate and internalize technology and civil rights expertise,” said Eric Null, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now. “No industry has gone unaffected by technology innovation, and the agencies overseeing our economy must understand both the technology itself and the civil rights implications of that technology. Otherwise, agencies will continue regulating in the dark, exacerbating inequities and injustice.”

The letter outlines two concrete requests for the agency review teams:

  1. Recruit a diverse range of voices and expertise on technology policy, to include, but not limited to, civil rights advocates, privacy advocates, consumer protection experts, academics, and community leaders and organizers who can speak to on-the-ground impacts.
  2. Ensure technology and civil rights staff work closely with primary decision-makers to evaluate equity impacts of new rules, agency actions, and the behavior of the regulated industries.