Last week, Public Knowledge submitted comments to the Department of Housing and Urban Development on its proposed changes to civil rights law, specifically disparate impact liability, which would make it more difficult for consumers to access the data they need to appeal housing decisions made by algorithms.
The following can be attributed to Bertram Lee, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“Disparate impact law allows consumers to challenge decisions that might seem neutral but have a discriminatory effect. As more industries like housing, insurance, credit, and even employment move to algorithmic decision-making technology, consumers could effectively lose the ability to bring these claims to court if they are not able to challenge the underlying technology that helps make these decisions. These ‘opportunity markets’ could potentially automate discriminatory outcomes by entrenching decades of inequality into code.
“Consumers who historically have not had the same access to many important markets and products can only participate equally — and fairly — if the process for challenging these decision-making systems is transparent. That means that consumers should not only be able to challenge the technology used in court, but also that housing providers and other similarly situated actors should be responsible for the technology they choose to deploy.”
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