Cory Booker and Yvette Clarke Want Algorithms Regulated for Bias
A trio of Democratic lawmakers wants large companies to audit machine learning-powered systems -- such as facial recognition or ad targeting algorithms -- for bias. The Algorithmic Accountability Act, introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) in the upper chamber and which Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) introduced in the House, would empower the Federal Trade Commission to scrutinize the use of consumer-facing “automated decision systems” in an effort to identify bias, privacy, and security risks. There has been growing political attention directed at algorithmic bias. This bill comes after some technology firms, like Facebook, faced questioning over their use of algorithm-based systems that decide which users see content such as housing and job advertisements. Regular Beat readers will recall that Facebook was sued by HUD, which alleges its ad targeting system unfairly limits who sees housing ads. “The discrimination that my family faced in 1969 can be significantly harder to detect in 2019: houses that you never know are for sale, job opportunities that never present themselves, and financing that you never become aware of -- all due to biased algorithms," Booker said. Facial recognition algorithm trained mostly on white subjects and can misidentify people of other races. The Democrats are aiming this measure at major companies with access to large amounts of information. It would apply to companies that make over $50 million per year, hold information on at least one million people or devices, or primarily act as data brokers that buy and sell consumer data. "By requiring large companies to not turn a blind eye towards unintended impacts of their automated systems, the Algorithmic Accountability Act ensures 21st Century technologies are tools of empowerment, rather than marginalization, while also bolstering the security and privacy of all consumers," Clarke said. More here.