The Stop Discrimination by Algorithms Act would be the most advanced civil rights law in the country in protecting people from automated discrimination.
WASHINGTON– The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law endorses the Stop Discrimination by Algorithms Act (SDAA), which is being considered by the Council of the District of Columbia. The bill includes protections against discrimination by automated decision-making tools and would give D.C. residents transparency about how algorithms are used to determine outcomes in everyday life – including in credit, housing, and employment.
“Automated decision algorithms are used to make decisions that can change the course of people’s lives. D.C. residents deserve to know that those choices are free from discrimination. Determinations about who gets hired, who gets approved for loans, or who gets healthcare are too important to be biased or untransparent. The Stop Discrimination by Algorithms Act is a significant effort that ensures people know when algorithms are being used against them and prevents these tools from discriminating,” said David Brody, Managing Attorney for the Digital Justice Initiative at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “D.C. residents need laws that meaningfully fight data-driven discrimination and account for the tools used in our increasingly online world. We are hopeful that the Council of the District of Columbia recognizes the urgent need to protect all D.C. residents–but especially communities of color–from algorithmic bias and discrimination.”
SDAA bridges the gap between existing civil rights laws in the district and new dangers that algorithmic discrimination presents online. The bill extends civil rights protections and sets new baseline standards of fairness by preventing algorithms from using discriminatory use of traits like race, sex, and disability in decisions about employment, housing, education, and public accommodations. It also requires that companies using algorithms disclose and explain when algorithms negatively affect a consumer’s opportunities and audit algorithmic tools for discriminatory patterns.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org