A New Data Protection Bill Aims to Tackle Racial Ad Targeting

Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is introducing a bill Thursday that will ban online platforms from racially discriminating against users through targeted advertising.

Known as the DATA Privacy Act, the bill authorizes the Federal Trade Commission to outline specific definitions of discriminatory practices in online advertising and data collection, and expands the FTC’s power to penalize these practices, The Verge reports.

The bill is especially relevant as investigations in recent years have found that advertisers are able to exclude racial groups from viewing specific ads. The practice of discrimination against people based on on race, gender, sexuality, and other identities is a violation of both the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Senator Cortez Masto believes that comprehensive legislation on data privacy must also factor in the impact of how data can be used to potentially target or exclude communities of color,” a spokesperson told Fortune. “Her work as a consumer advocate [during her time as Attorney General of Nevada] has expanded in the Senate to also encompass the issue of civil rights as it relates to data uses.

Facebook and Google faced criticism in 2017 for allowing ads to target users based on racist beliefs and hate speech. Facebook reportedly allowed advertisers to target users who had searched anti-Semitic topics, for example.

The Nevada Senator’s bill also aims to strengthen data protections for users, as data breaches have become more frequent. The DATA Privacy Act will require businesses to provide users with opt-in and opt-out consent options, according to a press release obtained by Fortune.

Specifically, the bill will expand users’ rights to opt-in to such data collection and storage as genetic, biometric, or precise location data.


Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.