AI and Human Rights

EPIC AI and Human Rights Project

EPIC’s Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) and Human Rights Project advocates for the adoption of transparent, equitable, and commonsense development of AI policy and regulations. EPIC pursues this goal through a combination of public education, direct legislative advocacy, freedom of information requests, comments to decision-makers at the state, federal, and international levels, and more.

Top News

  • Hamburg DPA Deems Clearview AI's Biometric Photo database Illegal, Orders a Partial Deletion of Profile: The Hamburg Data Protection Authority has ruled that Clearview AI’s searchable database of biometric profiles is illegal under the EU’s GDPR and ordered the U.S. company to delete the claimant’s biometric profile. Clearview AI scrapes photos from websites to create a searchable database of biometric profiles. The database, which is marketed to private companies and U.S. law enforcement, contains over 3 billion images gathered from websites and social media. The claimant submitted a complaint to the Hamburg DPA after discovering that Clearview AI had added his biometric profile to the searchable database without his knowledge or consent. The DPA ordered Clearview to delete the mathematical hash values representing his profile but did not order Clearview to delete his captured photos. The DPA’s narrow order protects only the individual complainant because it is not a pan-European order banning the collection of any EU resident’s photos. The DPA decided that Clearview AI must comply with the GDPR, yet this narrow order places a burden on Europeans to have their profiles removed from the database. EPIC has long opposed systems like Clearview AI, filing an amicus brief before the 9th Circuit defending an individual's right to sue companies who violate BIPA and other privacy laws, submitting FOIA requests with several government agencies that use Clearview AI technology, and urgingthe Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to recommend the suspension of face surveillance systems across the federal government. (Jan. 28, 2021)
  • EPIC to Washington Legislature: Pass Commonsense AI Regulation: EPIC Equal Justice Works Fellow Ben Winters testified today before the Washington Legislature in support of a bill to establish transparency and accountability around state automated decision-making and ban certain dangerous applications of AI. Under SB5116, public and regularly updated algorithmic accountability reports of state uses of automated decision-making systems will be completed, AI-enabled profiling that produces significant legal effects will be prohibited, and other baseline protections will be enacted. EPIC has advocated for algorithmic transparency for several years, has issued calls to ban face surveillance, and tracks use of AI in the Criminal Justice System. (Jan. 20, 2021)
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  • National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office Announced + (Jan. 13, 2021)
    The National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office, created as part of the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act of 2020, was recently announced by the White House. According to the Act, the office will act as a point of contact for various federal artificial intelligence activities, conduct regular outreach about AI, and “promote access to and early adoption of the technologies, innovations, [and] lessons learned.” EPIC has recently submitted comments to the Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence advising the agencies to follow the Universal Guidelines for AI and push for actionable legal rights to protect against algorithmic harms.
  • Civil Society Groups Urge EU to Prohibit Certain Red-Line Uses of AI + (Jan. 12, 2021)
    European Digital Rights (EDRi), along with 61 civil society groups including EPIC, sent a letter today calling for the EU to introduce certain red lines in their upcoming European Commission proposal on Artificial Intelligence. The letter calls on the EU to prohibit the use of biometric mass surveillance, AI at the border, use of AI with social scoring, and use of predictive policing and other AI criminal risk assessment tools. "Without regulatory limits on the use of AI-based technologies," the letter says, "we face the risk of violations of our rights and freedoms by government and companies alike." EPIC has called for a moratorium on the use of face surveillance, and maintains resources on AI in the criminal justice system.
  • President Issues Executive Order Regulating Some Government Uses of AI + (Dec. 9, 2020)

    President Trump recently signed an Executive Order on "Promoting the Use of Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence in the Federal Government," which establishes principles for certain federal government uses of AI. The principles state that AI systems must be lawful, purposeful, accurate, reliable, effective, safe, understandable, responsible, traceable, regularly monitored, transparent, and accountable. The order instructs applicable agencies to create public inventories of AI use and identify AI uses that are inconsistent with the principles. However, the principles do not apply to AI used in defense or national security systems or other "common commercial products." The Office of Management and Budget published similar principles in January, and the new order instructs the OMB to develop guidance for agencies to comply with the AI principles. In March, EPIC urged the OMB to follow the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence as a basis for AI policy.

  • Court Blocks Rule That Would Okay Algorithmic Housing Decisions, Limit Discrimination Claims + (Oct. 29, 2020)
    A federal judge in Massachusetts has blocked a federal regulation that would have made it significantly harder to sue landlords and lenders for housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. The rule created a defense to any disparate impact claim in which a "predictive analysis" tool was used to make a housing decision, so long as that tool "accurately assessed risk" or was not "overly restrictive on a protected class." The court ruled that this regulation would "run the risk of effectively neutering disparate impact liability under the Fair Housing Act." In 2019, EPIC and others warned the federal housing agency that sanctioning the use of algorithms for housing decisions would exacerbate discrimination unless the agency imposed transparency, accountability, and data protection requirements. The Alliance for Housing Justice called the rule "a vague, ambiguous exemption for predictive models that appears to confuse the concepts of disparate impact and intentional discrimination." EPIC has called for greater accountability in the use of automated decision-making systems, including the adoption of the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence and requirements for algorithmic transparency.
  • EPIC Urges FCC to Adopt AI Principles, Support Robust Regulation of AI + (Sep. 18, 2020)
    In comments to the Federal Communication Commission's Technological Advisory Council, EPIC urged the FCC to "support the establishment of a strong regulatory framework to ensure AI transparency and accountability within the agency and the private sector." EPIC's comments are directed to the TAC's AI Working Group, which analyzes the role of AI in telecommunications networks and services. EPIC recently submitted comments to the EU urging the European Commission to enact comprehensive AI legislation. In February, EPIC filed a petition with the FTC calling for a rulemaking on the use of AI in commerce. EPIC recommends that governments rely on the Universal Guidelines for AI and the OECD AI Principles as a baseline for AI policy.
  • Reps. Hurd, Kelly Introduce Resolution to Guide U.S. AI Policy + (Sep. 17, 2020)
    Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) released a resolution Wednesday proposing a set principles for AI policy in the United States. The recommendations include enacting federal privacy legislation "to build trust [and] prevent harm"; developing AI standards in order to ensure "technologies that are safe, secure, reliable, and comport with the norms and values of the United States"; and conducting regular oversight of AI use in the executive branch. The resolution comes after the two representatives released multiple reports on AI with the Bipartisan Policy Center. EPIC advocates for comprehensive data protection legislation, has evaluated existing proposals for federal privacy legislation, and recommends the Universal Guidelines for AI and the OECD Principles on AI as a baseline for AI policy.
  • Bipartisan Policy Center Calls for AI Regulation, Data Privacy Law + (Sep. 15, 2020)
    The Bipartisan Policy Center, along with Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL), recently released white paper outlining recommendations for Congress to regulate the use Artificial Intelligence. The recommendations include enacting federal data privacy legislation, funding the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop optional technological standards, and publicly releasing benchmark datasets for some applications of AI. The Center also published a report on Artificial Intelligence and National Security report this summer. EPIC advocates for the enactment of a federal comprehensive data privacy law, tracks privacy legislation, and recommends baseline mandatory technical standards for AI.
  • EPIC Urges EU to Enact Comprehensive AI Legislation + (Sep. 14, 2020)
    In comments to the European Commission, EPIC urged the EU to enact robust legislation covering all uses of AI in order to protect fundamental rights. The comments came in response to the Commission's Inception Impact Statement, which presented legislative options ranging from non-regulation of AI to regulating only "high-risk" AI to regulating all forms of AI. "Oversight of both public and private uses of AI will help avoid inappropriate applications of the technology, minimize the opacity of AI decision-making, and avoid arbitrary actions and determinations," EPIC wrote. EPIC explained that is essential to regulate all forms of AI—rather than just "high risk" applications—because "[i]nformation collected under one purpose not previously determined as 'high-risk' can easily be used in a 'high-risk' purpose" later. EPIC recommends that governments rely on the Universal Guidelines for AI and the OECD AI Principles as a baseline for AI policy.
  • Amazon Claims 'Halo' Device Will Monitor User's Voice for 'Emotional Well-Being' + (Sep. 1, 2020)
    Despite the exceptional privacy risks of biometric data collection and opaque, unproven algorithms, Amazon last week unveiled Halo, a wearable device that purports to measure "tone" and "emotional well-being" based on a user's voice. According to Amazon, the device "uses machine learning to analyze energy and positivity in a customer's voice so they can better understand how they may sound to others[.]" The device also monitors physical activity, assigns a sleep score, and can scan a user's body to estimate body fat percentage and weight. In recent years, Amazon has come under fire for its development of biased and inaccurate facial surveillance tools, its marketing of home surveillance camera Ring, and its controversial partnerships with law enforcement agencies. Last year, EPIC filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against Hirevue, an AI hiring tool that claims to evaluate "cognitive ability," "psychological traits," and "emotional intelligence" based on videos of job candidates. EPIC has long advocated for algorithmic transparency and the adoption of the Universal Guidelines for AI.
  • AI Commission Holds First Public Meeting + (Jul. 20, 2020)
    The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence held its first public meeting on Monday. A recording is available here, and materials for the meeting can be found here. Public access to the meeting is the result of a recent court ruling in EPIC v. AI Commission that the Commission is subject to the transparency requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Judge Trevor N. McFadden ordered the Commission to hold open meetings and regularly publish its records in the future. Judge McFadden previously ruled that the AI Commission is subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and the Commission has disclosed thousands of pages of records to EPIC since January. The case is EPIC v. AI Commission, No. 19-2906 (D.D.C.).
  • EPIC Hosts Panel on Algorithmic Risk Assessments + (Jul. 8, 2020)
    On Wednesday, EPIC hosted Liberty At Risk, an event focused on pre-trial algorithmic risk assessment tools. EPIC was joined by Sean Hill, Visiting Assistant Professor at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Vincent Southerland, Executive Director at the NYU Law Center for Race, Inequality and the Law, and Megan Stevenson, Associate Professor at University of Virginia School of Law. The panelists discussed how the use of these tools further encode systemic biases, and offered guidance for advocates navigating bail reform and the use of these tools. A video of the panel is available here. EPIC maintains a resource tracking the use of Criminal Justice algorithms.
  • Following Order in EPIC Case, AI Commission Announces First Public Meeting + (Jul. 6, 2020)
    The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence will hold its first public plenary meeting on July 20, the Commission said today. The announcement comes after a ruling in EPIC v. AI Commission that the Commission is subject to the transparency requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Judge Trevor N. McFadden ordered the Commission to hold open meetings and regularly publish its records in the future. Judge McFadden previously ruled that the AI Commission is subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and the Commission began disclosing its past records in January. Registration for the Commission’s July 20 meeting will open July 8. The case is EPIC v. AI Commission, No. 19-2906 (D.D.C.).
  • EPIC Obtains Additional Records from AI Commission + (Jul. 6, 2020)
    EPIC, as part of the open government case EPIC v. AI Commission, has obtained more documents from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. Among the records is a report concerning best practices for advisory commissions that was delivered to the AI Commission in early 2019. Notably, the report contains no recommendations about transparency or public participation in the Commission’s work. A federal court recently ruled in EPIC’s case that the AI Commission is subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Judge Trevor N. McFadden ordered the Commission to hold open meetings and regularly publish its records in the future. Judge McFadden previously ruled that the AI Commission is subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and the Commission began disclosing its prior records in January. The case is EPIC v. AI Commission, No. 19-2906 (D.D.C.).
  • AI Commission Calls for Privacy, Civil Liberties Safeguards on COVID-19 Contact Tracing + (May. 6, 2020)
    The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence has released a set of privacy and civil liberties recommendations concerning digital contract tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission urged that contact tracing tools must include data minimization, transparency, explicit user consent, and input from privacy and security professionals. The Commission also warned that contract tracing systems must address "challenges with inclusiveness and potential discrimination." The Commission advised Congress to establish technological standards and to require the Federal Trade Commission to regulate the technology. Since January, the Commission has released hundreds of pages of documents as part of the open government lawsuit EPIC v. AI Commission. EPIC is also litigating to enforce the Commission's obligation to hold open meetings.
  • EPIC v. AI Commission: Internal Report Alludes to 'Mass Surveillance,' 'Streets Carpeted with Cameras' + (Apr. 7, 2020)
    In a FOIA lawsuit, EPIC has obtained more documents from the Commission on Artificial Intelligence. The records include internal correspondence and an unattributed report about China's social scoring, facial recognition tools, and AI-based surveillance. The internal report highlights the "draconian" consequences of China's AI use but states that "Mass surveillance is a killer application" for AI and that "having streets carpeted with cameras is good infrastructure for smart cities[.]" The Commission's disclosure to EPIC follows a ruling in EPIC v. AI Commission that the Commission is subject to the FOIA. The AI Commission held over 200 secret meetings with tech firms, defense contractors, and others. EPIC is also litigating to enforce the Commission's obligation to hold open meetings. The case is EPIC v. National Security Commission on AI, No. 19-2906 (D.D.C.).
  • ICE Seeks to Expand Use of Facial Recognition + (Apr. 2, 2020)
    According to the Statement of Work, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is seeking to connect the agency's facial recognition system to the DHS Gang Intelligence Application database. ICE recently solicited contracts to overhaul the agency's interface with the Gang Intelligence Application database to establish a face template for all photos added to the database. EPIC has filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking details of ICE's use of Clearview AI's facial recognition technology. The secretive tech company scraped billions of facial images from Internet websites. EPIC and more than a hundred organizations have called for a moratorium on facial recognition technology.
  • EPIC Advises White House on Regulation of Private Sector AI + (Mar. 13, 2020)
    EPIC submitted comments on the OMB draft Guidance for Regulation of Artificial Intelligence Applications. The OMB Guidance instructs federal agencies to regulate private sector use of AI. EPIC recommended that the OMB guidance also apply to government uses of AI, that OMB establish prohibitions on secret profiling and unitary scoring, and require transparency to ensure fairness and accountability in automated decisions concerning people. EPIC has recently petitioned the FTC to undertake a rulemaking for AI in commerce. EPIC has published the AI Policy Sourcebook, the first reference book on AI policy.
  • EPIC Urges Court to Open Meetings, Records of AI Commission + (Mar. 10, 2020)
    EPIC has filed a reply brief in EPIC v. AI Commission urging a federal court in Washington, DC to enforce the Commission's obligation to hold open meetings and publish its records on a regular basis. The court previously ruled that the AI Commission must comply with the Freedom of Information Act. In briefs with the court, EPIC explained that the Commission must also comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, citing the law enacted by Congress. "It is not for the Government or the courts to second-guess that legislative choice simply because the AI Commission's transparency obligations flow from two statutes rather than one," EPIC wrote. In a recent report for Congress and the President, the Commission recommended weakening privacy safeguards for Americans but never consulted with the public as the Federal Advisory Committee Act would require. The case is EPIC v. AI Commission, No. 19-2906 (D.D.C.).
  • Comments on OMB AI Guidance Due Friday + (Mar. 9, 2020)
    The OMB is seeking comments on the proposed Guidance for Regulation of Artificial Intelligence Applications. The Guidance recommends that federal agencies "promote advancements in technology and innovation, while protecting American technology, economic and national security, privacy, civil liberties, and other American values, including the principles of freedom, human rights, the rule of law, and respect for intellectual property." The US AI Guidance follows from the OECD AI Principles, which the United States has endorsed, as well as some of the Universal Guidelines for AI, a human rights framework for AI endorsed by more than 250 experts and 60 associations in 40 countries. EPIC will recommend that the OMB regulation apply to all government uses of AI, include prohibitions on secret profiling and unitary scoring, and require transparency to ensure fairness and accountability in automated decisions concerning people. EPIC has recently petitioned the FTC to undertake a rulemaking for AI in commerce. Comments to the OMB are due Friday, March 13 and can be submitted through the Federal Register. EPIC has published the AI Policy Sourcebook, the first reference book on AI policy.
  • EPIC v. AI Commission: Court Orders Rapid Disclosure of Records + (Mar. 9, 2020)
    In EPIC's open government case concerning US AI policy, a federal court has ordered the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence to process 800 pages of records a month for disclosure to EPIC. The order follows the court's previous ruling in EPIC v. AI Commission that the Commission is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The Commission recently released a report to Congress that criticizes the EU General Data Protection Regulation and calls for greater "government access to data on Americans." Before issuing its report, the Commission held more than two hundred secret meetings with tech firms, defense contractors, and others but did not gather opinions from the American public. EPIC is also litigating to enforce Commission's obligation to hold open meetings.
  • In FOIA Case, EPIC Obtains New Documents From AI Commission + (Mar. 4, 2020)
    EPIC has obtained a more documents from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. The records obtained by EPIC show that the AI Commission was aware of work on algorithmic transparency and AI bias. But the Commission's recent report to Congress did not endorse these recommendations, instead criticizing EU privacy law and calling for greater "government access to data on Americans." The Commission's disclosure follows a court ruling in EPIC v. AI Commission that the Commission is subject to the FOIA. Before issuing its report, the AI Commission held regular secret meetings with tech firms and defense contractors but did not gather opinions from the American public. EPIC is also litigating to enforce Commission's obligation to hold open meetings.
  • EPIC's Rotenberg urges OECD to "Defend democratic values" + (Feb. 27, 2020)
    Speaking at the launch of the OECD AI Policy Observatory in Paris, EPIC President Marc Rotenberg urged OECD member countries to defend "the rule of law, fundamental rights, and democratic institutions." Rotenberg praised the OECD for its work on the AI Principles, noted the influence of the OECD Privacy Guidelines, but also warned that AI decisionmaking will have a profound impact on employment, education, and criminal justice. "The OECD is uniquely situated,:" Rotenberg said "to promote economic growth and protect democratic values." EPIC helped establish the OECD Civil Society Advisory Council and has gathered support for the Universal Guidelines for AI, a policy framework to protect human rights. EPIC's Rotenberg first urged "algorithmic transparency" at the OECD global forum in Japan in 2014.
  • EU Hearing on AI in Criminal Justice Highlights Concerns + (Feb. 20, 2020)
    The European Parliament heard testimony today on AI in Criminal Law amidst a widespread push towards robust AI regulation in the EU. The panelists before the committee responsible for civil liberties, justice, and home affair focused on facial recognition, risk assessments, and predictive policing. The hearing explored regulation and law enforcement use, and also transparency, explainability, and accountability. The hearing in Parliament followed the release of a European Commission White Paper on AI. EPIC has called for a moratorium on face surveillance and maintains a resource about the use of risk assessments in the US Criminal Justice system.
  • Report Reviews AI in Federal Agencies + (Feb. 20, 2020)
    A report released by the Administrative Conference of the US with Stanford and NYU explores the use of Artificial Intelligence techniques by 142 Federal Agencies. According to the report, law enforcement agencies are most likely to use AI. The report "Government by Algorithm: Artificial Intelligence in Federal Administrative Agencies" cites documents obtained by EPIC in the FOIA lawsuit EPIC v. CBP. In that case, EPIC obtained document from the federal agent that revealed problems with biometric identification. EPIC has recommended the Universal Guidelines for AI to guide the government's use of AI and EPIC recently petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to establish regulations for the use of AI in commerce.
  • EPIC to Court: Order AI Commission to Open Meetings, Records + (Feb. 19, 2020)
    EPIC has filed a brief urging a federal court to enforce the transparency obligations of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. EPIC explained that the AI Commission must hold open meetings and publish its records on a regular basis. The court previously ruled that the AI Commission must comply with EPIC's Freedom of Information Act request, but the Commission now claims that it is exempt from a related statute that requires advisory committees to operate transparently. EPIC told the court that "as is often the case for federal entities, the AI Commission must comply with two (or three, or more) statutory obligations at the same time." The Commission, which is tasked with developing U.S. AI policy, recently released a report to Congress criticizing the EU General Data Protection Regulation and calling for greater "government access to data on Americans." The AI Commission met frequently in secret with lobbyists and private contractors, but never gathered opinions from the American public.
  • EU Commission Seeks Public Comment on AI Plan + (Feb. 19, 2020)
    The European Commission has published the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence(AI) and the European Data Strategy. the Commission stated that the aim is to promote "Technology that works for people; a fair and competitive economy; and an open, democratic and sustainable society." On AI and fundamental rights, the Commission warned that "biases in algorithms or training data used for recruitment AI systems could lead to unjust and discriminatory outcomes..." The Commission also warned that the "gathering and use of biometric data for remote identification purposes carries specific risks for fundamental rights" but stopped short of endorsing a moratorium on face surveillance. The EU White Paper on Artificial Intelligence is open for public consultation until May 19, 2020. The Commission is also gathering feedback on the data strategy.
  • European Parliament Passes Resolution for AI Oversight + (Feb. 12, 2020)
    The European Parliament has passed a resolution urging the European Commission to adopt strong rules for industrial policy on artificial intelligence and robotics. The Resolution emphasizes safety, transparency, explainability, and data quality. The Resolution also seeks to "ensure that automatic decision-making is not being used to discriminate against consumers based on their nationality, place of residence or temporary location." The Resolution also supports the free flow of non-personal data to promote innovation. The European Commission is expected to announce how it will proceed with AI regulation next week. Last week, a Dutch Court ruled that an AI system to detect welfare fraud violated human rights. EPIC has promoted Algorithmic Transparency and the Universal Guidelines for AI, and also published the AI Policy Sourcebook, the first reference book on AI policy.
  • Dutch Court Rules Secret Welfare Algorithm Violates Human Rights + (Feb. 5, 2020)
    A Dutch Court ruled that an algorithmic risk assessment technique that ostensibly detects fraud violates human rights and privacy laws. The SyRi system processed massive amounts of personal data held in a government agencies with an opaque algorithm. The Dutch court ruled "there is a risk that the use of SyRI will inadvertently make connections based on bias." EPIC tracks and publicizes the use of risk assessments in the US Criminal Justice System as well as advocates for the Universal Guidelines for AI to ensure Algorithmic Transparency in automated decision making, EPIC published the AI Policy Sourcebook, the first reference book on AI policy.
  • EPIC Seeks Regulation of AI, Petitions Federal Trade Commission + (Feb. 3, 2020)
    Today EPIC filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission for a rulemaking "concerning the use of artificial intelligence in commerce." The EPIC petition follows two recent EPIC complaints to the FTC about the use of AI for employment screening and the secret scoring of young athletes. EPIC noted that several FTC Commissioners have called for updated regulations to address the challenges of Artificial Intelligence. EPIC pointed to the recent OMB Guidance for Regulation of Artificial Intelligence in support of the FTC rulemaking. EPIC also publishes the AI Policy Sourcebook, the first reference book on AI policy.
  • Senator Bennet Slams White House AI Strategy + (Jan. 31, 2020)
    Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) has criticized the White House Guidance on Artificial Intelligence as "insufficient" and "little more than gauzy generalities." In a letter to US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios, Bennet said the "principles male only passing referrence to privacy protections" and "just a cursory discussion of Americans' civil rights." Bennet said also that the White House "has failed to set spending targets, establish metrics, or allocate additional funding." EPIC published the AI Policy Sourcebook, the first reference book on AI policy. The AI Sourcebook includes the Universal Guidelines for AI, an influential human rights framework for AI policy.
  • European Parliament Committee Adopts Resolution on AI Oversight + (Jan. 23, 2020)
    A new European Parliament Resolution advises the European Commission to establish strong oversight of artificial intelligence. The Resolution emphasizes safe and compliant products, human responsibility, safety, transparency, explainability, and data quality. The Resolution also supports the free flow of non-personal data to promote innovation. Several of these principles are put forward in the Universal Guidelines for AI, which EPIC recommends as the baseline for AI Policy. On February 19, the European Commission is expected to announce how it will proceed with AI regulation. EPIC has promoted Algorithmic Transparency and published the AI Policy Sourcebook, the first reference book on AI policy.
  • EPIC Recommends Congress Implement OECD AI Principles, Back Universal Guidelines + (Jan. 15, 2020)
    EPIC has urged Congress to implement the OECD Principles on AI and adopt the Universal Guidelines of AI. In a statement in advance of a hearing on "Industries of the Future," EPIC also highlighted the White Houses's Guidance for AI Regulation, and urged the Senate to prioritize public participation and democratic values. Senator Roger Wicker's (R-MS) bill, the "Industries of the Future Act," would promote government investment in research and development and create a government Council to advise the Office of Science and Technology Policy on future industries, including artificial intelligence. EPIC has long advocated for transparency and public participation in AI policymaking. EPIC successfully sued the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence to ensure public access to agency records. EPIC recently filed a complaint with the FTC alleging that recruiting company HireVue fails to comply with baseline standards for AI decision-making. EPIC also sued the DOJ to uncover documents about the use of algorithms in the criminal justice system.
  • White House Publishes Guidance for AI Regulation + (Jan. 9, 2020)
    The White House has published Guidance for Regulation of Artificial Intelligence Applications. In a statement, US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said "The White House calls on agencies to protect privacy and promote civil rights, civil liberties, and American values in the regulatory approach to AI. Among other important steps, agencies should examine whether the outcomes and decisions of an AI application could result in unlawful discrimination, consider appropriate measures to disclose when AI is in use, and consider what controls are needed to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the information processed, stored and transmitted in an AI system." The US AI Guidance follows from the OECD AI Principles, which the United States has endorsed, as well as some of the Universal Guidelines for AI, a human rights framework for AI endorsed by more than 250 experts and 60 associations in 40 countries. The Guidance makes clear the importance of public participation in the formulation of AI policy. EPIC successfully sued the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence to ensure public access to agency records.
  • EPIC Advises USPTO to Follow US AI Commitments, Limit Trade Secrets + (Jan. 9, 2020)
    In comments submitted to the USPTO's request for information, EPIC recommended limiting trade secret defenses for AI techniques that have a a significant effect on an individual. EPIC also highlighted the US endorsement of the OECD AI principles, the White House's Guidance for Regulation of Artificial Intelligence Applications, and the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence. EPIC explained that these policy frameworks make clear the importance of transparency in AI policy. In 2019, EPIC successfully sued the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence to ensure public access to agency records.
  • Court Orders Further Briefing in EPIC v. AI Commission + (Dec. 20, 2019)
    A federal court has ordered the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence to respond to EPIC's arguments that the Commission is violating a federal law requiring advisory committees to operate transparently. During a hearing in EPIC v. AI Commission, Judge Trevor N. McFadden ordered the parties to file briefs concerning the Commission's obligation to hold open meetings and publish its records. The court has already ruled that the AI Commission must comply with EPIC's Freedom of Information Act request. In the same hearing, the government stated that the Defense Department will disclose records about the AI Commission in the next 4-6 weeks. The Commission, which is tasked with developing U.S. AI policy, recently released a report to Congress criticizing the EU General Data Protection Regulation and calling for greater "government access to data on Americans."
  • At Council of Europe, EPIC's Rotenberg Urges Focus on AI and Human Rights + (Nov. 19, 2019)
    Speaking to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, EPIC's Marc Rotenberg urged democratic nations to move forward a policy framework for AI that safeguards human rights. "You cannot afford to wait," said Mr. Rotenberg, describing the work of EPIC to establish algorithmic accountability. In the past few years, EPIC has promoted Algorithmic Transparency, supported the Universal Guidelines for AI, and published the first reference book on AI policy. EPIC has also challenged the secrecy of the US National Commission on AI and urged the recognition of AI policy frameworks to regulate the use of AI techniques.
  • EPIC Files Complaint with FTC about Employment Screening Firm HireVue + (Nov. 6, 2019)
    Today, EPIC filed a complaint with the FTC alleging that recruiting company HireVue has committed unfair and deceptive practices in violation of the FTC Act. EPIC charged that HireVue falsely denies it uses facial recognition. EPIC also said the company failed to comply with baseline standards for AI decision-making, such as the OECD AI Principles and the Universal Guidelines for AI. The company purports to evaluate a job applicant's qualifications based upon their appearance by means of an opaque, proprietary algorithm. EPIC has brought many similar consumer privacy complaints to the FTC, including a complaint on Facebook's facial recognition practices that contributed to the FTC's 2019 settlement with Facebook. Last year EPIC also asked the FTC to investigate the Universal Tennis Rating system, a secret technique for scoring high school athletes.
  • EPIC Seeks More Details on Secretive AI Commission Report + (Nov. 6, 2019)
    Following the release of a report by the US Commission on Artificial Intelligence, EPIC is seeking specific information about recommendations that could impact the privacy rights of Americans. EPIC previously sued the Commission to make public its records and meetings. Now EPIC wants to know why the Commission criticized the EU General Data Protection Regulation and why the Commission wants to amend U.S. privacy laws to allow "government access to data on Americans." EPIC is also curious why the Commission selectively published the names of organizations and businesses it consulted. The Commission is chaired by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. EPIC filed suit against the Commission earlier this year to ensure transparency and public participation. The Commission has held more than 200 closed-door meetings. The case is EPIC v. AI Commission, No. 19-2906 (D.D.C).
  • Report Raises New Concerns About Privacy Safeguards for US AI Deployment + (Nov. 4, 2019)
    A report released today by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence raises new concerns about privacy and human rights safeguards for the use of AI by the federal government. The report to Congress acknowledges that "AI tools present states with greater capabilities to monitor and track their citizens or those of other states" and that AI "increases the risk of human rights abuses or violation of individual privacy[.]" The Commission also calls for AI uses that are "consistent with constitutional principles of due process, individual privacy, equal protection, and non-discrimination." But the report criticizes the EU's "privacy-first approach" to AI, calling the GDPR "a significant obstacle in any efforts to standardize privacy regulations," even though many leading US companies have agreed to comply with the privacy law. The Commission's report was drafted almost entirely in secret, in violation of multiple open government laws. In September, EPIC filed suit against the Commission to ensure transparency and public participation. EPIC's case is EPIC v. AI Commission, No. 19-2906 (D.D.C.).
  • Bill Introduced to Regulate Forensic Algorithms + (Sep. 23, 2019)
    U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA 41) has introduced the "Justice in Forensic Algorithms Act of 2019." The Act would create federal standards for the development and use of forensic algorithms as well as prohibit the use of trade secrets privileges to prevent defense access to evidence in criminal proceedings. The Computational Forensic Algorithm Standards include considerations of bias, accuracy, precision, and reproducibility, and makes "publicly available documentation by developers of computational forensic software of the purpose and function of the software, the development process, including source and description of training data, and internal testing methodology and results, including source and description of testing data." Earlier this year, Iowa passed a law regarding pre-trial risk assessment algorithms. EPIC has advocated for Algorithmic Transparency across all applications and urges the use of the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence to guide AI regulation. A new publication from EPIC — the AI Policy Sourcebook — includes major policy frameworks for artificial intelligence.
  • Secret AI Policy Meetings Continue + (Sep. 19, 2019)
    The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence is holding yet another closed-door meeting today—at least the fourth such meeting in the Commission's short existence. Created by Congress in 2018, the AI Commission is tasked with considering "the methods and means necessary to advance the development of" AI to address national security and defense needs. But the Commission has operated almost entirely in secret, unlawfully refusing to publish any meeting notices or to allow any public participation. Last week, EPIC renewed its request to access Commission records and meetings. The Commission is dominated by representatives of large tech firms, including Google and Microsoft. EPIC has urged Congress to ensure that the Commission operates transparently.
  • EPIC Publishes First Reference Book on AI Policy + (Sep. 17, 2019)
    EPIC has published "The EPIC AI Policy Sourcebook 2019." The EPIC collection is the first compendium of AI policy, providing essential information to policy makers, researchers, journalists, and the public. The EPIC Sourcebook includes global AI frameworks such as the OECD AI Principles and the Universal Guidelines for AI, as well as materials from the EU, Council of Europe, national AI initiatives and professional societies IEEE and ACM. The Sourcebook also includes an extensive resources section on AI, including organizations, reports, articles, and books from around the world. "Required reading for a necessary conversation," Sherry Turkle. The EPIC AI Policy Sourcebook is now available in the EPIC Bookstore.
  • EPIC Renews Request for Information About National AI Commission + (Sep. 16, 2019)
    EPIC has renewed its request with the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence for records and access to Commission meetings. Created by Congress in 2018, the AI Commission is tasked with considering "the methods and means necessary to advance the development of" AI to address national security and defense needs. But the Commission has operated almost entirely in secret, unlawfully refusing to publish any meeting notices or to allow any public participation. The Commission is dominated by representatives of large tech firms, including Google and Microsoft. EPIC previously requested records about the AI Commission and has urged Congress to ensure that the Commission operates transparently.
  • Privacy Emphasized in White House AI Budget Request + (Sep. 12, 2019)
    The White House Budget for 2020 emphasizes privacy and ethics in AI Research and Development. The budget recommends "broad, multidisciplinary research in security and privacy," but actual funding levels remain unclear. In 1989, the Human Genome Project set aside 18 million dollars annually to examine Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications. Strategic priorities from the 2016 National Privacy Research Strategy will be carried forward. EPIC has recently published the "AI Policy Sourcebook," containing public policy frameworks for Artificial Intelligence.
  • EPIC Advisory Board Member Anne Washington Testifies Before Congress + (Sep. 12, 2019)
    EPIC Advisory Board Member Professor Anne Washington today testified at a hearing on "The Future of Identity in Financial Services: Threats, Challenges, and Opportunities." Professor Washington said "Ignoring AI exceptions in financial services risks excluding many in our society because they are outliers from expectations...By baking privacy, security, and usability into the design of our AI systems, we can build a more responsible and ethical data environment." EPIC supports algorithmic transparency which would reduce bias and help ensure fairness in automated decisionmaking. EPIC proposed the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence as the basis for federal legislation. The Universal Guidelines have been endorsed by more than 250 experts and 60 organizations in 40 countries. EPIC has recently published the "AI Policy Sourcebook," containing the Universal Guidelines and other AI policy framework.
  • Facebook Faces More Civil Rights Lawsuits + (Aug. 20, 2019)
    A new lawsuit alleges that Facebook violated the Fair Housing Act by allowing advertisers to use factors such as race, sex, and disability to prevent home buyers and renters from seeing housing ads. Facebook recently settled claims and made changes to its advertising practices following lawsuits by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. EPIC is currently challenging the FTC's settlement with Facebook, arguing that it provides little benefit to Facebook users. EPIC also supports algorithmic transparency, which would reduce bias and help ensure fairness in automated decisionmaking. EPIC proposed the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence as the basis for federal legislation. The Universal Guidelines have been endorsed by more than 250 experts and 60 organizations in 40 countries.
  • EPIC Comments on Council of Europe Draft AI Recommendation + (Aug. 15, 2019)
    EPIC has filed comments on the Council of Europe's Recommendation on AI and human rights. Drafted by a committee of human rights experts, the Recommendation is expected to be adopted by the COE in early 2020. EPIC expressed strong support for the draft Recommendation, noting nearly all of the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence principles are included. EPIC also recommended the COE incorporate UGAI principles prohibiting secret profiling and unitary scores and requiring termination of AI systems that spin out of control. Intended to maximize the benefits of AI, to minimize the risk, and to ensure the protection of human rights, over 250 experts and 60 organizations have endorsed the Universal Guidelines. EPIC also recently urged the White House to safeguard personal data in U.S. AI research and development.
  • NIST Publishes Plan For AI Technical Standards + (Aug. 12, 2019)
    The National Institute of Standards and Technology has published a plan for federal involvement in developing AI technical standards. The NIST report states that it "is important for those participating in AI standards development to be aware of, and to act consistently with, U.S. government policies and principles, including those that address societal and ethical issues, governance, and privacy." NIST recommends the government (1) bolster AI standards expertise in federal agencies, (2) support public and private sector engagement in crafting AI standards, (3) translate requirements for trustworthy AI into practical standards, and (4) strategically engage around the world. NIST also calls for research into benchmarking "the reliability, robustness, and trustworthiness of AI systems" and "improve AI evaluations and methods for verification and validation," as well as the incorporation of ethical considerations and "human-centered" values. EPIC filed comments on the NIST plan, urging the U.S. to adopt the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence and the Universal Guidelines for AI. Both frameworks require rights-protective AI, verified as robust and reliable throughout its lifecycle.
  • EPIC, Legal Scholars, Technology Experts Publish Statement on US AI R&D Policy + (Aug. 8, 2019)
    EPIC and more than two dozen legal scholars and technical experts have filed comments on a White House Office of Management and Budget proposal to open federal data sets for AI research and development. "EPIC supports the public availability of data from the federal government for use in AI research, development, and testing that is not personally identifiable information," the document states. However, the experts strongly cautioned "against the use of data sets containing personally identifiable information," noting that federal agencies are under legal obligations to safeguard personal information. "EPIC's view of the use of government data for AI reflects long-standing practices in federal information policy that seek to maximize public access to public information while restricting access to personal data," the letter stated. EPIC also encouraged compliance by federal agencies with the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence, which the US recently endorsed, and the Universal Guidelines for AI. Both frameworks emphasize the importance of privacy protection in AI research. EPIC has previously proposed the UGAI as the basis for federal AI policy - twelve principles intended to maximize the benefits of AI, to minimize the risk, and to ensure the protection of human rights. The Universal Guidelines have been endorsed by more than 250 experts and 60 organizations in 40 countries.
  • US AI Commission Continues Secret Meetings + (Jul. 15, 2019)
    On July 11, 2019, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence held its third meeting behind closed doors. Created by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, the AI Commission is tasked with considering "the methods and means necessary to advance the development of" AI to address the national security and defense needs of the U.S. Representatives of large tech firms, including Google and Microsoft, dominate the Commission. Like its first meeting in March, the AI Commission provided no notice of the meeting and no opportunity for public participation. According to reports, the AI Commission received briefings on AI research, national security uses of AI, and preparing the workforce for AI. The AI Commission's mandate specifies that comprehensive reports be made available to the public. EPIC previously filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking a copy of the AI Commission report, which has still not been released to the public.
  • White House Seeks Public Comments on AI and Federal Data + (Jul. 11, 2019)
    The White House is requesting public comment on which federal data and models should be made available for AI research, development, and testing. Comments are due by August 8, 2019. The request for public comments follows from the Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence, which also requires agencies to identify privacy, civil liberties, and security concerns associated with access federal data sets. The Privacy Act of 1974 imposes limits on how government agencies collect, use, and transfer personal data. In Scientific American, EPIC has strongly favored greater use of federal data that is not personally identifiable, such as statistical data and data concerning climate change, but has warned against the use of personal data maintained by federal agencies for AI projects. EPIC also recently filed comments with the National Institute of Standards and Technology urging the U.S. to implement the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence and the Universal Guidelines for AI, which both emphasize the importance of privacy protection in AI research.
  • At G-20, Merkel Calls for Comprehensive AI Regulation + (Jun. 28, 2019)
    Speaking at the G-20 Summit in Japan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the European Commission to propose comprehensive regulation for artificial intelligence. "It will be the job of the next Commission to deliver something so that we have regulation similar to the General Data Protection Regulation that makes it clear that artificial intelligence serves humanity," Chancellor Merkel said. EPIC recently urged the U.S government to implement the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence and the Universal Guidelines for AI as standards for U.S. AI policy. Over 250 experts and 60 organizations, representing more than 40 countries have endorsed the Universal Guidelines, which are intended to maximize the benefits of AI, to minimize the risk, and to ensure the protection of human rights.
  • White House Updates National AI Research and Development Plan + (Jun. 21, 2019)
    The White House has published the 2019 update of the National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan. The report sets out priorities for U.S. AI policy. The 2019 report carries forward seven recommendations from the 2016 plan. The plan underscores the need to address the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI (Strategy #3), emphasizes safety and security (Strategy #4), and the development of standards and benchmarks (Strategy #6). A new recommendation "focuses on the increasing importance of effective partnerships between the Federal Government and academia, industry, other non-Federal entities, and international allies to generate technological breakthroughs in AI." The 2019 report acknowledges input from "researchers, research organizations, professional societies, civil society organizations and individuals." Common themes included "the importance of developing trustworthy AI systems, including fairness, ethics, accountability, and transparency of AI systems." EPIC also recommended that the US AI strategy incorporate the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence in national policy. As the report notes, "beyond purely data-related issues, however, larger questions arise about the design of AI to be inherently just, fair, transparent, and accountable."
  • Intelligence Agencies Inspector General Calls for AI Oversight + (Jun. 11, 2019)
    A new report from the Inspector General urges oversight of the use of Artificial Intelligence techniques by the U.S. intelligence agencies. "Reassuring statements that the [intelligence community] is currently using AI technologies - and will use AI technologies in the future - in ways consistent with the rule of law and American values will not be sufficient. The [agencies] will need to validate those statements for the American people," the Inspector General said. "Investment asymmetry between mission performance and intelligence oversight in AI efforts could lead to an accountability deficit," the statement continues, "there is little indication that investments in oversight of AI are currently a high priority." EPIC recently urged the federal government to implement the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence and the Universal Guidelines for AI as primary standards for U.S. AI policy.
  • EPIC Recommends NIST Implement OECD AI Principles, Back Universal Guidelines + (May. 31, 2019)
    EPIC has filed comments with the National Institute of Standards and Technology urging the U.S. to implement the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence and the Universal Guidelines for AI. NIST sought information from the public on the appropriate standards U.S. AI policy. EPIC called on NIST to begin implementing the OECD principles - the first international standard for AI, which the U.S. recently endorsed. EPIC also said the agency should go further by adopting the Universal Guidelines for AI. Over 250 experts and 60 organizations, representing more than 40 countries have endorsed the UGAI, which are intended to maximize the benefits of AI, to minimize the risk, and to ensure the protection of human rights. EPIC will host a panel discussion on The Future of AI Policy in the U.S. at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on June 5, with representatives from the White House, the OECD, and leading experts in technology and public policy.
  • OECD Announces AI Principles, 42 Nations Endorse + (May. 22, 2019)
    Today the OECD announced the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence, the first international standard for AI, with the backing of 42 countries. The OECD AI principles make central "the rule of law, human rights and democratic values" and set out requirements for fairness, accountability and transparency. OECD Secretary-General Gurría said the OECD AI principles "place the interests of people at its heart." Gurría also quoted Alan Turing, who once said, "We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done." Civil society groups, working through the CSISAC played a key role in the development of the OECD AI Principles as did the EPIC Public Voice project. Earlier this year, EPIC President Marc Rotenberg commended the US administration for backing the OECD process, but also wrote in the New York Times that there is much more to be done. "The United States must work with other democratic countries to establish red lines for certain AI applications and ensue fairness, accountability, and transparency as AI systems are deployed."
  • OECD to Announce International Standard for AI + (May. 21, 2019)
    The OECD will announce this week The Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence, the first intergovernmental standard on AI. [OECD flyer] The OECD AI Recommendation aims to foster innovation and trust in AI by promoting the responsible stewardship of trustworthy AI while ensuring respect for human rights and democratic values. The OECD AI Standard addresses fairness, accountability, and transparency and speaks specifically to the need to respect "freedom, dignity and autonomy, privacy and data protection, non-discrimination and equality, diversity, fairness, social justice, and internationally recognised labour rights." The OECD AI standard complements existing OECD standards in areas such as privacy, cryptography, digital security risk management, and responsible business conduct. Over the past year, EPIC led an effort to promote Universal Guidelines for AI following an earlier campaign for Algorithmic Transparency. EPIC will host a panel discussion on The Future of AI Policy in the US at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on June 5, with representatives from the White House, the OECD, and leading experts in technology and public policy. Registration is open to the public.
  • In Comments to Defense Dept. EPIC Urges Adherence to Privacy Act, Algorithmic Fairness + (Apr. 22, 2019)
    In comments to the Department of Defense on the proposed expansion of the "Insider Threat" Database, EPIC recommended the Department withdraw unlawful and unnecessary routine use disclosures, significantly narrow the Privacy Act exemptions, and adopt the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence. The DoD plans to collect detailed, personal information, including health data, ethnicity and race, biometric data, travel records, and social media information, on federal employees, their friends, and family members. EPIC noted widespread computer security problems at the DoD, and warned, "this system of records—despite a documented inability to protect personal data—invites the very threats the program seeks to prevent." EPIC previously commented on the creation of the system.
  • European Commission Releases AI Policy Report + (Apr. 8, 2019)
    The European Commission's Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence has released Guidelines for Trustworthy AI. The EU Guidelines identify seven principles for ethical AI: (1) Human agency and oversight; (2) Robustness and safety; (3) Privacy and data governance (4) Transparency; (5) Diversity, non-discrimination and fairness; (6) Societal and environmental well-being; and (7) Accountability. The European Commission will open a pilot program to test implementation of the Guidelines for Trustworthy AI this summer. The EU Guidelines reflect several principles from the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence, which have been endorsed by more than 260 experts and 60 organizations in 40 countries. The Universal Guidelines are designed to protect human rights in the development and use of AI systems.
  • White House Launches AI Website, Questions About Public Input Remain + (Mar. 21, 2019)
    A new White House website "Artificial Intelligence for the American People" emphasizes "AI for American Innovation, AI for American Industry, AI for the American Worker, and AI with American Values," but still provides no opportunities for public input. The National Commission on Artificial Intelligence, tasked with advising the federal government on AI policy, also recently held its first meeting in secret. Last year, EPIC—joined by nearly 100 experts and leading scientific organizations including AAAS, ACM, FAS, and IEEE—successfully petitioned the White House Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence to incorporate public input in the committee's work. EPIC has urged US support for the Universal Guidelines for AI, a policy framework emphasizing fairness, accountability, and transparency for AI systems.
  • At OECD, EPIC's Rotenberg Calls for "Bold" AI Framework + (Mar. 11, 2019)
    Speaking to the Going Digital Summit of the OECD in Paris, EPIC President Marc Rotenberg urged the OECD to adopt a bold framework for AI that will safeguard fundamental rights. "The OECD is uniquely situated to put forward an international framework that spurs innovation, and protects democratic institutions and human rights," said Mr. Rotenberg. The OECD Civil Society Advisory Council has promoted the Universal Guidelines for AI, a policy framework endorsed by more than 250 experts and 60 associations in more than 40 countries.
  • EPIC to Congress: Require Algorithmic Transparency To Prevent Discriminatory Profiling + (Mar. 5, 2019)
    Prior to a hearing on "Inclusion in Tech: How Diversity Benefits All Americans," EPIC has sent a statement to a House committee. EPIC said that "algorithmic transparency" could reduce bias and help ensure fairness in automated decisionmaking. EPIC proposed the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence as the basis for federal legislation. The Universal Guidelines have been endorsed by more than 250 experts and 60 organizations in 40 countries. EPIC, Color of Change, the Open Markets Institute, and others have also urged the FTC to require Facebook to reform is hiring practices. "If the company wishes to connect the world," EPIC and the groups wrote, "it must also be prepared to reflect the world in all of its decision-making."
  • Representatives Lawrence and Khana Introduce Resolution on AI Policy + (Feb. 28, 2019)
    Reps. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) have introduced a Congressional resolution calling for guidelines for the ethical development of artificial intelligence. The Ethical AI resolution sets out core principles, including transparency, accountability, fairness, privacy protection, public engagement, education, and safety. EPIC has proposed similar principles, the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence as the basis for AI legislation. The Universal Guidelines have been endorsed by more than 250 experts and 60 organizations in 40 countries. EPIC previously urged lawmakers to appoint AI Commission members who support the Universal Guidelines.
  • EPIC to NYC: Develop Privacy Safeguards for "Smart City" Technologies + (Feb. 14, 2019)
    In comments to the City of New York, EPIC identified current privacy risks to New Yorkers, new challenges from the development of "smart cities" services, and also described how other cities are tackling privacy issues. The NYC Mayor's Office of Information Privacy sought input from the public on policies to best serve the privacy interests of New Yorkers. EPIC recommended that the city minimize collection of personally identifiable data, promote the use of statistical data, upgrade cyber security, and provide increased opportunity for public participation in the development of new Internet-based services. EPIC also encouraged NYC to adopt the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence when implementing AI technology.
  • White House Executive Order on AI Leaves Key Questions Unanswered + (Feb. 11, 2019)
    President Trump today signed an executive order on Artificial Intelligence that leaves many questions unanswered. EPIC has urged both the White House and Congress to ensure public input on AI policy. EPIC has also proposed the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence as the basis for AI legislation to reduce bias in decision-making algorithms, ensure digital globalization is inclusive, create human-centered evidence-based policy, promote safety in AI deployment in national security uses, and rebuild trust in institutions. The Universal Guidelines have been endorsed by more than 250 experts and 60 organizations in 40 countries.
  • EPIC To PCLOB: Review 12333, Facial Recognition, AI, Smart Borders, and 702 Authority + (Feb. 7, 2019)
    In advance of a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board forum on "Countering Terrorism while Protecting Privacy and Civil Liberties: Where do We Stand in 2019," EPIC sent a statement to the Board outlining priorities. EPIC said the Civil Liberties Board should (1) release the report on Executive Order 12333; (2) limit government use of facial recognition; (3) establish safeguard for government AI use; (4) monitor proposals for "smart" borders and assess privacy impacts on US residents; and (5) reform Section 702 surveillance authority. The independent agency reviews federal agency programs to ensure protections for privacy and civil liberties. EPIC helped establish the PCLOB. In 2003 EPIC testified before the 9-11 Commission and urged the creation of an independent privacy agency to oversee the surveillance powers established after 9/11. EPIC also set out initial priorities for the PCLOB and spoke at the first meeting of the Oversight Board in 2013. In 2016, EPIC awarded former PCLOB Board Member Judge Patricia Wald with the EPIC Champion of Freedom Award.
  • EPIC to Senate: Oversight Board Must Review Government Use of Facial Recognition, AI + (Feb. 5, 2019)
    In advance of a hearing about the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, EPIC sent a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee outlining priorities. EPIC said the Civil Liberties Board should (1) release the report on Executive Order 12333; (2) review the use of facial recognition technology and propose safeguards; (3) review the use of artificial intelligence and propose safeguards; and (4) monitor proposals for "smart" borders and assess privacy impacts on US residents. The independent agency reviews federal agency programs to ensure adequate safeguards for privacy and civil liberties. EPIC helped establish the PCLOB. In 2003 EPIC testified before the 9-11 Commission and urged the creation of an independent privacy agency to oversee the surveillance powers established after 9/11. EPIC also set out initial priorities for the PCLOB and spoke at the first meeting of the Oversight Board in 2013. In 2016, EPIC awarded former PCLOB Board Member Judge Patricia Wald with the EPIC Champion of Freedom Award.
  • Public Voice Urges World Economic Forum to Adopt Universal Guidelines for AI + (Jan. 25, 2019)
    This week, The Public Voice urged participants at Davos to adopt the Universal Guidelines for AI to protect human rights, and to ensure access, inclusion, and equity for global citizens. Leaders of the World Economic Forum launched the 2019 Davos conference this week, with several events on privacy and AI to develop technology policies that are "underpinned by the necessary ethical principles and values-based framework." In opening remarks, Klaus Schwab said the 4th Industrial Revolution demands human-centered, inclusive, and sustainable solutions. @ThePublicVoice urged adoption of the UGAI principles to reduce bias in decision-making algorithms, ensure digital globalization is inclusive, create human-centered evidence-based policy, promote safety in AI deployment in national security uses, and rebuild trust in institutions.
  • European Commission Seeks Input on AI Policy + (Jan. 9, 2019)
    The European Commission's Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence has requested comments on draft Guidelines for Trustworthy AI. The EU Guidelines state, "Trustworthy AI has two components: (1) it should respect fundamental rights, applicable regulation and core principles and values, ensuring an 'ethical purpose' and (2) it should be technically robust and reliable since, even with good intentions, a lack of technological mastery can cause unintentional harm." The EU Guidelines reflect several principles from the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence, which have been endorsed by more than 250 experts and 60 organizations in 40 countries. The Universal Guidelines promote transparency, accuracy, and fairness for AI systems. Comments to the European Commission are due January 18, 2019. The final report will be released in March 2019.
  • EPIC Asks Congress to Nominate AI Commission Members Who Support the Universal Guidelines + (Dec. 19, 2018)
    EPIC has urged members of Congress responsible for a new National Commission on AI to nominate experts and public interest representatives who have endorsed the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence. EPIC told Congress "it is vitally important that the National Security Commission include members who can represent the interests of the American public on AI." Leading computer scientists and scientific societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, have endorsed the Universal Guidelines. According to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, the National Security Commission on AI will be composed of 15 members, conduct an extensive review of AI, and prepare an initial public report in 2019.
  • EPIC Urges Public Input on AI Policy + (Dec. 11, 2018)
    In a statement on AI policy to the House Armed Services Committee, EPIC urged the panel to ensure public input on AI policy. The statement from EPIC follows a petition to the White House, backed by EPIC and leading scientific organizations, to solicit public comments on US AI policy. EPIC also proposed the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence as the basis for AI legislation. The Universal Guidelines are intended to "maximize the benefits of AI, minimize the risk, and ensure the protection of human rights." More than 230 experts and 60 organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, have endorsed the Universal Guidelines.
  • EPIC To Congress: Require Algorithmic Transparency For Google, Dominant Internet Firms + (Dec. 10, 2018)
    EPIC has sent a statement to the House Judiciary Committee in advance of a hearing on Google's business practices. EPIC said that "algorithmic transparency" should be required for Internet firms. EPIC explained that Google's acquisition of YouTube led to a skewing of search results after Google substituted its secret "relevance" ranking for the original objective ranking, based on hits and ratings. EPIC pointed out that Google's algorithm preferences YouTube's web pages over EPIC's in searches for videos concerning "privacy." Last year the European Commission found that Google rigged search results to preference its own online service. The Commission required Google to change its algorithm to rank its own shopping comparison the same way it ranks its competitors. The US Federal Trade Commission has failed to take similar action, after even receiving substantial complaints. EPIC also urged Congress to consider the Universal Guidelines for AI as a basis for federal legislation.
  • EPIC's Rotenberg Urges Support for AI Guidelines at OECD + (Nov. 19, 2018)
    Speaking to the OECD Global Strategy Group in Paris, EPIC President Marc Rotenberg urged OECD member countries to endorse the Universal Guidelines for AI. "Civil society recognizes that AI may help solve the world's greatest challenges - from climate change and resource scarcity to  medical breakthroughs and sustainable development. But we also believe that the public must be given the opportunity to participate in the development of AI policy. And there should be guidelines at the outset that safeguard democratic values and human rights," said Mr. Rotenberg. More than 200 experts and 50 NGOs, from across 40 countries, have endorsed the Universal Guidelines for AI, the first human rights framework for artificial intelligence. The OECD Global Strategy Group brings together senior officials from member countries to discuss the challenges shaping today's world.
  • Pew Research: Widespread Concerns in US About AI + (Nov. 16, 2018)
    A new survey from the Pew Research Center "Public Attitudes Toward Computer Algorithms" found widespread concern about the fairness of automated decision making. According to the Pew report, "Americans express broad concerns over the fairness and effectiveness of computer programs making important decisions in people's lives." Americans oppose the use algorithms for criminal risk assessments (56%), automated resume screening for job applicants (57%), and personal finance scores (68%). Many of the concerns in the Pew Report are addressed in the Universal Guidelines for AI, the first human rights framework for AI. More than 200 experts and 50 NGOs have endorsed the Universal Guidelines. Public opinion polls consistently find strong support among Americans for new privacy laws.
  • Following EPIC Petition, National Science Foundation Seeks Public Comment on AI Policy + (Sep. 26, 2018)
    The National Science Foundation has announced that it is seeking public comment on US policy for artificial intelligence The decision follows a petition by EPIC, leading scientific organizations including AAAS, ACM, FAS, and IEEE, and nearly 100 experts calling for public participation in the work of the White House Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence. In May, the White House held a secret meeting with government agencies and federal officials. Several key AI challenges, such as accountability, transparency, ethics, and fairness, were ignored. EPIC recently urged the Senate Commerce Committee to ensure public participation in U.S. AI policy. In a FOIA request, EPIC obtained communications between the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation. Last month EPIC urged the Senate Commerce Committee to ensure public participation in US AI policy. And EPIC is hosting a Public Voice conference in Brussels on "AI, Ethics, and Fundamental Rights." Comments on US AI policy are due to NSF by October 26.
  • White House Establishes AI Advisory Committee + (May. 10, 2018)
    The White House has established the "Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence" to advise the President and coordinate AI policies among executive branch agencies. The Office of Science and Technology Policy, NSF, and DARPA will lead the interagency committee. According to the White House, the goals of the Committee are (1) prioritize funding for AI research and development; (2) remove barriers to AI innovation; (3) train the future American workforce; (4) achieve strategic military advantage; (5) leverage AI for government services; and (6) lead international AI negotiations. The Committee will also coordinate efforts across federal agencies to research and adopt technologies such as autonomous systems, biometric identification, computerized image and video analysis, machine learning and robotics. It is unclear whether the Committee will include public perspectives in its work. In 2014, EPIC, joined by 24 consumer privacy, public interest, scientific, and educational organizations petitioned the OSTP to accept public comments on a White House project concerning Big Data. The petition stated, "The public should be given the opportunity to contribute to the OSTP's review of 'Big Data and the Future of Privacy' since it is their information that is being collected and their privacy and their future that is at stake." In 2015 EPIC launched an international campaign for Algorithmic Transparency and recently urged Congress to establish oversight mechanisms for the use of AI by federal agencies.
  • House Bill Would Create Commission on AI + (Mar. 22, 2018)
    Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) has introduced a bill (H.R. 5356) that would create the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI).Congresswoman Stefanik said, “It is critical to our national security but also to the development of our broader economy that the United States becomes the global leader in further developing this cutting edge technology.” The Commission would conduct a comprehensive review of AI technologies, assess the risks to national security, identity actionable items, and provide recommendations to the President and Congress. The Commission’s recommendations would also address: data and privacy, international law and ethics, competitiveness, technological advantages, cooperation and competition, investments and research, and workforce and education. In 2015, EPIC launched an international campaign for Algorithmic Transparency. EPIC has also warned Congress about the use of opaque technique in automated decision-making.

Introduction

Helpful terms to remember:

Automated decision-making tools are tools or systems that analyze data in order to aid in decision-making -- these can vary from simple algorithms to machine learning programs. Most of the systems discussed on this page are automated decision-making systems.

Algorithms are functions that analyze data using a defined set of instructions and yield an output based on the instructions.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a broad term used to describe computational systems used to automate or optimize decision-making processes based on a wide range of data inputs.

Machine learning AI is an increasingly common data analysis technique that uses an algorithm or system that can adapt over time based on its inputs and outputs.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are used by many private sector and government entities. The definition of AI is subject to much debate, and the degree of technological sophistication in the systems can vary greatly. But there is no doubt that the use and development of AI systems is expanding rapidly.

The use of AI is largely unregulated in the United States, and the inner workings of the systems are often opaque. In many cases, members of the public are not even aware that AI systems are being used to make decisions that impact their lives. A few examples of AI systems currently used in commercial contexts in ways that impact individuals are (1) systems used to estimate creditworthiness and security risks; (2) systems used to evaluate emotional responses to questions and used to scan resumes during hiring evaluations; (3) systems used to analyze sensitive genealogical data; (4) and systems used to connect and link numerous data points to build profiles on individuals. And AI systems have also been used to make decisions in other contexts as well, including in the criminal justice system. For example, state governments in the United States use AI systems to assess the “risk” posed by individuals when determining bail, sentencing criminal defendants, assigning public benefits, evaluating claims of discrimination, and more. A study completed by the Administrative Conference of the United States revealed that 45% of federal agencies have used AI and related machine learning tools - and their use is widespread in state governments. There are several AI systems that do not concern individuals directly, which may not implicate many of the concerns EPIC raises around systems that do.

In response to the rapid commercial deployment of AI systems, EPIC petitioned the Federal Trade Commission in February 2020 to set baseline standards for AI operation “given…the very real consequences of AI-enabled decision-making for consumers.” EPIC’s petition urged “the Commission [to] immediately initiate a rulemaking to define and prevent consumer harms resulting from AI."

EPIC has also repeatedly urged government entities such as the Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence to push for the adoption of meaningful regulations for AI systems that increase transparency and accountability and create actionable rights for people that may be aggrieved by these systems.

AI systems have been shown to exacerbate bias and disparate impacts based on gender, age, race and other characteristics in hiring, housing, criminal justice, surveillance, and other contexts. The efficacy of these tools is largely unknown, and there is a lack of transparency around the specific purposes for their use and the metrics used measure their effectiveness.

It is essential to establish regulations that recognize the harms posed by AI systems and require transparency, oversight, and accountability for both commercial and government uses of AI. EPIC consistently urges government actors to use The Universal Guidelines for AI and the OECD AI principles as frameworks to guide their policymaking towards equitable solutions.

Automated Decision-Making and COVID-19

Especially in emergency situations, governments consider and deploy AI systems quickly - which can be seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of this include drones that purport to detect fever and coughs from afar and invasive educational surveillance tools that students are required to use to “proctor” their exams during the school closures. Large surveillance companies such as Palantir and Clearview AI have built AI systems and quickly deployed them for use by governments and other entities without meaningful oversight. EPIC has drafted a Model State Pandemic Digital Rights Protection Bill, which would establish use limitations, impose transparency and accuracy requirements, and create privacy rights for citizens subject to any automated decision-making systems adopted in response to a public health emergency. Read more about EPIC’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

EPIC's AI Work

Comments to Federal U.S. AI Policymakers

Comments to European Union Policymakers

Commercial AI and Consumer Scoring

AI in the Criminal Justice System

Domestic Surveillance and AI

Key Frameworks

EPIC has advocated for the U.S. to implement the OECD Principles on AI and adopt the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence. These AI policy frameworks flow directly from the White House AI Guidance, fulfill U.S. international commitments, and will enhance U.S. leadership on AI.

Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence

In October 2018, over 250 experts and 60 organizations, representing more than 40 countries, endorsed the Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence (“UGAI”). The guidelines were organized by the Public Voice. The guidelines in full are:

  1. Right to Transparency. All individuals have the right to know the basis of an AI decision that concerns them. This includes access to the factors, the logic, and techniques that produced the outcome.
  2. Right to Human Determination. All individuals have the right to a final determination made by a person.
  3. Identification Obligation. The institution responsible for an AI system must be made known to the public.
  4. Fairness Obligation. Institutions must ensure that AI systems do not reflect unfair bias or make impermissible discriminatory decisions.
  5. Assessment and Accountability Obligation. An AI system should be deployed only after an adequate evaluation of its purpose and objectives, its benefits, as well as its risks. Institutions must be responsible for decisions made by an AI system.
  6. Accuracy, Reliability, and Validity Obligations. Institutions must ensure the accuracy, reliability, and validity of decisions.
  7. Data Quality Obligation. Institutions must establish data provenance, and assure quality and relevance for the data input into algorithms.
  8. Public Safety Obligation. Institutions must assess the public safety risks that arise from the deployment of AI systems that direct or control physical devices, and implement safety controls.
  9. Cybersecurity Obligation. Institutions must secure AI systems against cybersecurity threats.
  10. Prohibition on Secret Profiling. No institution shall establish or maintain a secret profiling system.
  11. Prohibition on Unitary Scoring. No national government shall establish or maintain a general-purpose score on its citizens or residents.
  12. Termination Obligation. An institution that has established an AI system has an affirmative obligation to terminate the system if human control of the system is no longer possible.

Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development AI Principles

The OECD AI Principles were adopted in 2019 and endorsed by 42 countries—including the United States, several European Countries, and the G20 nations. The OECD AI Principles establish international standards for AI use:

  1. Inclusive growth, sustainable development and well-being. AI should benefit people and the planet.
  2. Human-centered values and fairness. AI systems should be designed in a way that respects the rule of law, human rights, democratic values and diversity, and they should include appropriate safeguards - for example, enabling human intervention when necessary - to ensure a fair and just society.
  3. Transparency and explainability. There should be transparency and a responsible disclosure around AI systems to ensure that people understand AI-based outcomes and can challenge them.
  4. Robustness, security and safety. AI systems must function in a robust, secure and safe way throughout their life cycles and potential risks should be continually assessed and managed.
  5. Accountability. Organizations and individuals developing, deploying or operating AI systems should be held accountable for their proper functioning in line with the above principles.

EPIC AI Policy Sourcebook

The EPIC AI Policy Sourcebook is the first compendium of AI policy, providing essential information to policy makers, researchers, journalists ,and the public. The EPIC AI Policy Sourcebook includes global AI frameworks such as the OECD AI Principles and the Universal Guidelines for AI. The Sourcebook also includes AI materials from the European Union and the Council of Europe, national AI initiatives, as well as recommendations from professional societies, including the ACM and the IEEE. The 2020 edition was also updated to include the Beijing Guidelines, the Defense Innovation Board Principles, AI policy surveys, and national AI strategies. The EPIC AI Policy Sourcebook also includes an extensive resources section on AI, including reports, articles, and books from around the world.

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