Feb 8, 2020 at 09:00 UTCUpdated Feb 8, 2020 at 09:50 UTC
Harvard researcher Mutale Nkonde examines technology through the lens of whether it improves people’s lives. She is an expert on how technological systems impact communities of color and she’s helped craft bills on deep fakes, biometric surveillance and algorithmic bias that have been introduced to Congress.
As part of our ongoing Election 2020 series, we spoke with her about surveillance capitalism, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and whether anyone in the Democratic field stands out to her on privacy issues. The CCPA, signed into law in 2018, empowers California consumers to know when private companies collect, share, or sell their data and to stop that sale if necessary. It applies to companies with annual gross revenues of more than $25 million or that possess information on 50,000 or more consumers.
Powers: Do you think the US does need to create a law to protect citizens privacy, particularly online or in digital environments?
Nkonde: I really like the California law, because it’s so ambitious. Even if it’s eventually attacked by that legislature, you’re starting from a really strong place. You never want to make something weak initially and then try to make it stronger because that’s just not the way corporate lobbyists work. And so I personally really like that law but I definitely would be somebody that advocated for online protections, not just for adults, but children too. Children are incredibly vulnerable online and, as the popularity of sites like TikTok explode, you run into situations where they have a pedophile problem, right?
You want to be able to protect those vulnerable populations. I think it has to be in the form of a federal privacy law because tech knows no boundaries.