Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Rep. Yvette D. Clarke of New York introduced legislation (S 1108 and HR 2231) requiring tech firms with more than $50 million in revenue, or holding data on more than one million people, to probe and test the algorithms they use for bias  (Hat tip, CNBC)

  • The bill requires that firms assess their algorithms, and describe what they’re doing. It doesn’t require firms to share the information, but it pushes them to figure out — at a minimum for themselves — just what is the “secret sauce” behind their products. And presumably the FTC will be able to inspect it (Not unlike the authorities wielded by regulators under ECOA).
  • The bill also from the start combines data protection with consumer protection, requiring firms to consider not only the deployment of data, but also its storage.
  • Finally, the bill pushes firms to assess for inaccurate, unfair, biased, or discriminatory decisions impacting consumers. As such, it also contains significant overlap with the FTC’s existing authority to police unfair, deceptive or abusive acts; interestingly, however, the definition of bias is not explicit, and could theoretically entail more than just unfair acts against constitutionally protected classes of individuals.
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