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Privacy, Equity, and Civil Rights Discussion Roundtables

May 20, 2024

In May 2024, NTIA hosted two discussion sessions in support of the agency’s ongoing work exploring the intersection of privacy, equity, and civil rights.

  • On May 16, the agency convened a discussion session in partnership with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Public Knowledge with invited representatives of civil society organizations to explore recent developments in the privacy and civil rights area, including the impact of the proposed American Privacy Rights Act.
  • On May 17, the agency hosted a similar session in partnership with the Future of Privacy Forum with invited representatives from the private sector.

These discussion sessions followed on a Request for Comment issued by NTIA in January, 2023 on how companies’ data practices may impose outsized harm on marginalized or underserved communities, and the ways in which firms collect, share, and use data can exacerbate existing structural inequities. As NTIA prepares a report with findings and recommendations, the sessions provided an opportunity to hear from stakeholders about any potential new developments or concerns on the topic.

Approximately 15 participants attended the May 16 civil society session, and 20 attended the May 17 private sector session. The roundtables were held under Chatham House rules in order to encourage frank discussion among attendees. At both roundtables, a range of topics were discussed, including:

  • New developments or practices in the commercial data sphere that have emerged since the agency’s 2023 Request for Comment (RFC) that may impact equity and civil rights;
  • Potential impacts of proposed legislation at the state and federal level, including the proposed American Privacy Rights Act;
  • Whether stakeholders observed any new concerns related to civil rights and commercial data practices since the RFC;
  • The effect of data practices on religious and ethnic minorities, including Jewish people;
  • The impact of artificial intelligence on commercial data practices and civil rights, including how privacy practices embracing data minimization will impact both data collection and management practices;
  • The need for companies to collect personal data in order to conduct equity assessments or audits, particularly of algorithmic systems, and how to scope such data collection;
  • Any potential unintended consequences of data minimization on anti-bias and equity initiatives;
  • Whether efforts to define categories of sensitive data will impact marginalized communities, and where such efforts may miss these communities’ needs or harms.