Civil Rights, Big Data, and Our Algorithmic Future

The key decisions that shape people’s lives—decisions about jobs, healthcare, housing, education, criminal justice and other key areas—are, more and more often, being made automatically by computers. As a result, a growing number of important conversations about civil rights, which focus on how these decisions are made, are also becoming discussions about how computer systems work.

Earlier this year, a path-breaking coalition of major civil rights and media justice organizations released the Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data, highlighting how the growing use of digital surveillance, predictive analytics, and automated decision-making impacts core civil rights concerns. We served as technical advisors to that coalition.