Pass the Stop Discrimination by Algorithms Act!
If a District of Columbia resident applies for a mortgage, they might be denied for the loan. But if they are Black, their chances of being denied or given a higher rate increase. Similarly, people who live in predominantly Black neighborhoods might be given higher car insurance rates. These decisions are often made by algorithms—computer systems that solve problems or complete tasks.
Algorithms often replicate discriminatory decisions and preferences that humans make offline. They can exclude women from seeing certain employment ads or deprioritize Black patients for care. Algorithmic accountability is the only proven method to prevent algorithmic bias, and that requires evaluating algorithms, deleting discriminatory datasets, and suspending the use of discriminatory algorithms.
The District of Columbia has an opportunity to support a bill for algorithmic accountability. The Stop Discrimination By Algorithms Act will protect DC residents from algorithmic discrimination in important life decisions, or decisions about housing, education, employment, or credit. By passing this bill, DC could be the first city to outlaw the use of discriminatory algorithms to decide eligibility for important life opportunities.
Demand the Council of the District of Columbia pass the Stop Discrimination by Algorithms Act!
Here is the Petition:
We urge the Council of the District of Columbia (DC Council) to enact the Stop Discrimination by Algorithms Act.
Algorithms are automated systems that solve puzzles and perform functions. However, these algorithms are far from neutral and can replicate the bias we see in human decision making. For example, algorithms using housing data will repeat discriminatory patterns resulting from redlining policies. We need regulations to prevent algorithms from bringing long outlawed discrimination into the future.
The Stop Discrimination by Algorithms Act will be a landmark algorithmic accountability law. It is the first state bill to outlaw the use of discriminatory algorithms in important life opportunities by private actors. We call on the DC Council to advance this bill to markup and to pass it into law. The dangers of the tech industry evolve everyday, and DC residents need robust defenses as soon as possible.