June 26, 2024 — Press Release

BOSTON – Advocates from the National Consumer Law Center made the following statements in response to the most recent draft of the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA), which removed important civil rights protections and algorithmic auditing provisions. 

“The new draft of the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA) is unacceptable. It includes highly problematic provisions preempting state consumer protection laws.  It also carves out from its protections some of the worst privacy abusers, such as credit bureaus and debt collectors. And now it has stripped out some of the most critical positive provisions – civil rights protections, including language that would address data-driven discrimination and require AI impact assessments. This is worse than no bill,” said Chi Chi Wu, senior attorney at National Consumer Law Center. Wu leads NCLC’s work on data fairness and organized a letter raising concerns that APRA would preempt state laws governing tenant screeners and would exclude from APRA protections entities covered under the much weaker Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

“Privacy rights are incomplete without civil rights protection,” said  Odette Williamson, senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “We are already seeing how Black and brown communities are harmed by artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other algorithmic discrimination.  A privacy bill that does not protect our communities from these harms is not acceptable.” Williamson leads NCLC’s Racial Justice Project and its work on consumer protections to govern artificial intelligence.

Advocates urge legislators to postpone action on the bill until these crucial consumer and civil rights protections are restored, preemption of state laws are narrowed, and problematic industries such as debt collectors are covered.  

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