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D.C. attorney general introduces bill to ban ‘algorithmic discrimination’

December 10, 2021

In his recent article in NPR, Martin Austermuhle reports on D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine’s latest attempt to mitigate societal bias in artificial intelligence. This first of its kind bill proposes a ban on algorithmic discrimination, “the practice of computer algorithms that discriminate against certain people who apply for jobs, seek a place to live, or try to get a loan.” Building on the District’s Human Rights Act, this bill will extend the prohibition of discrimination based on a number of protected characteristics to technology and algorithms. 

Similar to the motivation behind the new Data & Trust Alliance, the bill intends to debunk the myth that algorithms are innately egalitarian. Along with mandatory annual audits and documentation on how algorithms are built, if adopted, this bill would outlaw the use of discriminatory algorithms in systems that make high risk decisions. This bill comes shortly after the New York City Council passed a bill regulating the use of harmful algorithms in the hiring process. Though Racine’s bill extends to even more industries, the intention behind the bill remains the same: The time is now to regulate AI.

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