Legacy Issues: Center for Civil Rights and Technology

Legacy Issues

Lifeline Program

Voice and broadband services are essential for full participation in today’s economy. Unfortunately, our nation’s most marginalized communities are often on the wrong side of the digital divide. The Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program closes the affordability gap that keeps communities disconnected from 21st century communications services. Millions of Americans rely on the Lifeline program for access to affordable voice and broadband services — and that is why we work to ensure the program remains strong.

Lifeline Modernization Principles ›

Lifeline Civil Rights Comments ›

Close the Digital Divide, Protect the Lifeline Program ›

Comments regarding FCC Proposals to Dismantle the Lifeline Program 

Media Diversity

Civil rights protections rely in great measure on an accurate, independent, and diverse media. The Federal Communications Commission must find creative and practical ways to address inequities in media ownership and enhance representation and inclusion within these industries. We advocate for the FCC to consider the impact of media concentration on minority and women’s ownership, improve its data collection on the demographics of media ownership, and meet the informational and communications needs of all people.

Hold FCC Accountable for Diverse and Independent Media ›

Commentary: The FCC and Civil Rights ›

Comments on 2018 Quadrennial Regulatory Review ›

Prison Phone Rates

For many people who are incarcerated, phone calls are the most reliable and practical method of staying in contact with their families and communities. But too often prison systems and phone companies take advantage of this dependence and charge outrageously high rates for these phone calls. Current policy is not just inhumane — it reduces the chances that people will successfully return home from prison. We support efforts to eliminate predatory prison phone rates in America.

Big Data

Technological progress should bring greater safety, economic opportunity, and convenience to everyone. While data is essential for documenting persistent inequality and discrimination, no one – no matter their color, ethnicity, or gender – should be unfairly targeted by businesses or the government for dragnet surveillance, discriminatory decisions, or any other unwarranted intrusions.

In 2014, we partnered with 13 other civil and human rights and technology organizations to release Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data, urging companies and the government to develop and use these new technologies in ways that will promote equal opportunity and equal justice.

To ensure that big data serves the best interests of each of us, civil rights must be a key part of any public policy framework.

Read Our Civil Rights Principles ›

Body Worn Cameras

As body worn cameras come into greater use by law enforcement across the country, police departments should follow certain principles to ensure that the cameras are a tool of public accountability and transparency – not instruments of injustice. In May 2015, a broad coalition of civil rights, privacy, and media rights organizations released shared civil rights principles for the use of body worn cameras by law enforcement.

In collaboration with Upturn, we’ve also released a scorecard that evaluates the civil rights safeguards of police body-worn camera programs in 75 U.S. cities – and a report, The Illusion of Accuracy: How Body-Worn Camera Footage Can Distort Evidence, which explains why police departments must carefully limit law enforcement officers’ review of body-worn camera footage.

Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments

In July 2018, a broad coalition of more than 100 civil rights, digital justice, and community-based organizations released a shared statement of civil rights concerns highlighting concerns with the adoption of algorithmic-based decisionmaking tools (also known as risk assessment instruments) as a substitution for ending money bail.

These tools use data to forecast an individual’s likelihood of appearance at future court dates and/or risk of re-arrest. While many jurisdictions claim that these tools are a necessary part of an effort to end money bail and create a fairer pretrial system, the signers, representing millions of people impacted by mass incarceration, urge jurisdictions to reconsider their use of these tools, and to center transparency and accountability to the communities judged by the tools.

Our Statement of Concern ›

Splash Statement