Over the past two weeks, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the only African American woman to sit on the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee, has further established herself as a willing champion for digital equity.
The Representative from New York, who is now serving her tenth year in Congress, last year established the Multicultural Media Caucus to fight for greater inclusion of women and people of color in the media, tech, and telecom sectors. Now, she’s tackling the issues of cybersecurity and privacy with the introduction of two new bills, The Cybersecurity Responsibility Act of 2017 and The ICE Body Camera Act of 2017.
Both bills are designed to ensure the protection of private information from unlawful or over broad access, and to protect people from hacking, illegal activity, or unjust treatment at the hands of hackers, bad actors, or over zealous law enforcement.
“Every few weeks we hear the same story,” she said, “cyberattacks by hackers – some of whom are affiliated with foreign governments that are hostile to the United States – compromise sensitive information that should have remained private.”
In a statement released to accompany the Cybersecurity bill, Clarke said, “It has become clear that we need to have a comprehensive policy on cybersecurity that protects personal information, from the pin number for your debit card to your email password to your medical records. With the authority to regulate international and interstate communications in the interest of the public, the Federal Communications Commission should collaborate with experts in cybersecurity to develop best practices that will allow internet providers and other companies to protect themselves and their customers from the threat of hacking. We have to fight any attack on our personal privacy – as well as the institutions of our democracy – from cyberterrorists.”
Recognizing the importance of this bill, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee said, “Our networks and devices are the hub of our digital lives. They can make our lives better and our economy stronger, but only when they are secure…This bill would ensure that Americans do not have to choose between innovation and security.”
Understanding that protecting one’s privacy rights also extends to efforts to accurately document individual interactions with law enforcement, Clarke noted that “In recent years, many law enforcement agencies in the United States have required their officers to wear body cameras when conducting arrests or interacting with the community, in order to increase accountability and build the public’s trust in law enforcement officials. The early results are promising. A study cited by President Obama’s Task Force on Twenty-First Century Policing found that police officers wearing body cameras were involved in 87.5 percent fewer incidents where force was used and received 59 percent fewer complaints than police officers who did not wear cameras.” By introducing the ICE Body Camera Act, Clarke hopes to achieve greater balance in the way civilian encounters with law enforcement are understood, particularly in the case of immigrant populations.
These recent pieces of legislation indicate that Clarke is focused on the implications of America’s burgeoning digital economy and interested in framing proactive solutions to address the challenges that come along with it.