The Center for Digital Democracy’s mission is to ensure that digital technologies serve and strengthen democratic values, institutions and processes. CDD strives to safeguard privacy and civil and human rights, as well as to advance equity, fairness, and community.
CDD works to protect and expand digital rights and data justice through research-led initiatives designed to influence policymakers, corporate leaders, the news media, civil society, and the general public. The organization focuses on developing and advocating for rules and policies that
- · foster privacy, justice, and non-discriminatory treatment in the digital marketplace;
- · safeguard young people against unfair, manipulative, and other harmful practices;
- · promote responsible commercial data and digital marketing operations in political campaigns and elections;
- · ensure that digital marketing practices contribute to fair and equitable public health outcomes;
CDD holds technology platforms, content providers, data companies, advertisers, and other stakeholders accountable for their behaviors in the digital marketplace.
CDD is led by a team of senior staff with well-established track records and expertise in research, advocacy, policy, and corporate accountability. Jeff Chester, CDD’s Founder and Executive Director, is a well-known, award-winning public interest advocate and press relations expert with more than 30 years of experience, as well as extensive knowledge of contemporary digital industry practices. Dr. Katharina Kopp, Deputy Director and Director of Policy, is a former Vice President at American Express and a leading privacy expert and data justice advocate. Dr. Kathryn Montgomery, Research Director and Senior Strategist, was President of the Center for Media Education for 12 years. In addition to her work with CDD, she is Professor Emerita at American University.
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The Center for Digital Democracy was founded in 2001. But CDD’s work on new media and public policy really began in 1991, when Kathryn Montgomery and Jeff Chester co-founded the Center for Media Education (CME). CME played a key role during the 1990’s promoting greater public participation in media and telecommunications issues. CME led the campaign for the enactment of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA, 1998).
CDD has been spearheading initiatives designed to ensure that digital media in the broadband era fulfill their democratic potential. It has played a key role pressing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to develop safeguards on such issues as online behavioral advertising (OBA), mobile marketing, social media, enforcement of COPPA, and other digital marketing practices. Most recently, complaints filed with the FTC by CDD and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) against Google resulted in significant changes in how children are treated on YouTube. CDD has also called for policies to regulate Big Data, artificial intelligence and associated classifying and predictive data analytics, as well as corporate mergers that have helped fuel a global commercial surveillance apparatus.