Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto has introduced a data privacy bill tackling racial ad targeting, The Verge reported.
The Digital Accountability and Transparency to Advance (DATA) Privacy Act bans companies from using targeted ads discriminating against protected groups based off of race, sexual orientation, or gender.
It’s been a problem for big tech companies before, like in 2016, when ProPublica found Facebook let advertisers exclude users based on their race.
ProPublica purchased an ad in Facebook’s housing categories, through the company’s own advertising portal, excluding anyone with an “affinity” for African-American, Asian-American, or Hispanic people. They then spoke to a civil rights attorney who basically told them it was a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
Now, Cortez Masto’s bill would let the Federal Trade Commission introduce specific definitions as to what’s discriminatory behavior when it comes to targeted ad and data practices. The FTC would also be able to fine companies engaging in those practices.
A spokesperson for Cortez Masto told The Verge, “The Senator is focused [on making sure] that as Congress tackles the issue of protecting Americans data privacy, our government is also guarding against potential forms of digital discrimination in areas ranging from housing and employment to lending and access to resources.”
Along with tackling racial ad targeting, the bill requires companies to collect only “reasonable” amounts of data and they must give users a way to opt out, as reported by The Hill.
“My legislation takes a proactive approach to protecting consumer data by ensuring Americans have a voice in how their consumer data is used,” Cortez Masto said, according to The Verge. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation with my colleagues and will continue this fight to strengthen consumer privacy and data security.”