ACLU of Georgia

Constitutional Conversation: Exploring the Digital Rights Frontier 

How far is too far when it comes to mining personal data?

by Jerzy Shedlock

Pictured from left, Nora Benavidez, director of Digital Justice and Civil Rights for Free Press; Fallon McClure, ACLU of Georgia deputy policy and advocacy director; and Jack Kennedy, executive vice president, chief legal officer and secretary of KORE Wireless.

On Wednesday, September 7, 2022, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia hosted the latest session of its Constitutional Conversation series, “Exploring the Digital Rights Frontier,” featuring a panel of legal experts who discussed how far is too far when it comes to apps, social media platforms, and law enforcement mining and using people’s personal data.

ACLU of Georgia Deputy Policy and Advocacy Director Fallon McClure led the discussion at The Gathering Spot, posing questions to panelists Nora Benavidez, director of Digital Justice and Civil Rights for Free Press, and Jack Kennedy, executive vice president, chief legal officer and secretary of KORE Wireless. Kennedy is also the president of our Board of Directors.

During the event, Benavidez and Kennedy were asked to describe the digital landscape, what rights people should be aware of regarding their actions online, and some of the challenges associated with protecting oneself against unwanted data collection. Digital rights are accurately described as a “frontier,” the speakers asserted, because stakeholders — from consumers to lawmakers and private corporations — are still in the process of mitigating the harms caused by what happens online. 

“All of our lives are digital now. The majority of American adults are highly connected. Social media is often the primary pathway to obtain information. We can’t be passive in thinking our actions online do not exist absent of consequence. It’s great that we’re more connected than ever before … but the insidious underbelly of this frontier is that, just like the real world, there are deep and perpetuating inequities, and those play out across identity,” Benavidez said.

What are our digital rights? Freedom of speech immediately comes to mind because people want to express themselves online, said Kennedy. However, people should also ask deeper questions such as, do you have the right to access personal data a company has collected? Can you demand it be deleted? To what extent are companies responsible for addressing these concerns? Experts are only beginning to scratch the surface of how to handle those issues, he said.

If you’d like to view the entire event, you can do so on our Facebook page here. If you value your right to privacy, please keep this issue in mind when voting in November. And if you are interested in learning about other issues related to your constitutional rights, stay tuned for the next Constitutional Conversation.

ACLU of Georgia poll results on personal privacy, and more:

Opinion: Georgians Agree on a Right to Privacy

Press Release: New Poll Shows that Georgians Overwhelmingly Agree on Personal Privacy Rights

Jerzy Shedlock (he/him) is a communications specialist at the ACLU of Georgia.

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