Joint Letter Urges Companies Not to Provide Data that Could Be Used to Violate Rights

Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)
Paul Goodman, Greenlining Institute Senior Legal Counsel, 831-325-8600 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Today The Greenlining Institute joined with a total of 16 public interest groups to send a letter (available in both English and Spanish) to nearly 50 “Big Data” companies asking those companies to pledge to “not allow our data, or services, to be purchased or otherwise used in ways that could lead to violations of the human rights of Muslims or immigrants in the United States.” The public interest groups acted in response to the current administration’s refusal to rule out the possibility of a “Muslim registry” and its moves to accelerate deportations of potentially millions of undocumented immigrants.

“Many tech companies collect vast amounts of personal data on all of us and make a profit by reselling that information,” said Greenlining Institute Telecommunications Legal Fellow Vinhcent Le. “Today we’re asking these companies and their data brokers to make absolutely clear that they will not let anyone not use this mass of data to persecute people because of their religion, nationality or immigration status.”

Greenlining noted that a registry profiling people based on religion would violate the right to nondiscrimination and could lead to further human rights abuses. In addition, since about three-quarters of U.S. Muslims identify as people of color, any “Muslim ban” would disproportionately affect communities of color. Registries of Muslims or unauthorized immigrants would likely be used to facilitate arbitrary detention and deportation, splitting up families and again violating fundamental human rights.

“Silicon Valley companies often talk about human rights and how technology can empower people and promote freedom,” said Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar. “Today we’re asking the tech and Big Data worlds to make sure their actions match their words.”


A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute