Lab notes: January 2021

New investigation finds some auto insurers gave higher quotes to people with less education or lower-paying jobs

– A new investigation by CR’s Digital Lab and co-published with The Root reconfirms CR’s 2015 findings that auto insurance prices often depend far less on how customers drive than on socioeconomic factors such as education, job titles, and credit history. We collected 869 unique online policy price quotes for a hypothetical driver from nine auto insurers, using 21 ZIP codes in six states and Washington, D.C. Drivers with less education and less senior job titles could end up paying more for auto insurance, compared to consumers with identical driving records who have advanced degrees or job titles associated with higher pay. Pricing auto insurance on non-driving factors like education and occupation magnifies the economic impacts of systemic racism. It disproportionately affects Black and Latino drivers, who on average are less likely to have college degrees and white-collar jobs. We’re backing proposed laws in New Jersey and other states that would bar insurers from factoring education and occupation in quotes. Sign our petition and read more about our study in The Washington Post and Bloomberg.

Celebrating #dataprivacyday

-January 28th marked #dataprivacyday, an international day of recognition for practices that safeguard data and enable trust. At CR we are working hard to do just that. We recently launched Security Planner, a free, easy-to-use guide to improve your digital security and privacy. We’re also incubating an experimental service to give consumers more control of their data, which you can read more about in The New York Times. For more about how you can best safeguard your data, tune in to hear Digital Lab director Ben Moskowitz on NPR’s All Sides.

States consider new consumer privacy bills in Washingtonand Virginia

– CR testified at state Senate hearings earlier this month in Washington and Virginia on a set of new privacy bills. The bills would provide consumers key baseline rights to access, delete, and stop the sale of their information. CR played a key role in shaping the legislation, and is recommending that legislators add more protections so that they at the minimum meet the standards set in the California Consumer Privacy Act. CR also distributed a letter to legislatures in Washington hearing, and participated in a panel exploring the nuances of the legislation.

In case you missed it

CR launched a petition in response to the introduction of data caps and overage fees by Comcast. More than 70,000 people have signed on to the petition.

– Visa scrapped its planned merger with fintech startup Plaid after the Justice Department sued to block the acquisition on antitrust grounds. CR had raised concerns about the merger when it was first announced.

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