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Press Release

Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Joins Officials from CFPB, EEOC and FTC Pledging to Confront Bias and Discrimination in Artificial Intelligence

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and officials from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) jointly pledged today to uphold America’s commitment to the core principles of fairness, equality and justice as emerging automated systems, including those sometimes marketed as “artificial intelligence” or “AI,” become increasingly common in our daily lives – impacting civil rights, fair competition, consumer protection and equal opportunity.

“As social media platforms, banks, landlords, employers and other businesses that choose to rely on artificial intelligence, algorithms and other data tools to automate decision-making and to conduct business, we stand ready to hold accountable those entities that fail to address the discriminatory outcomes that too often result,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This is an all hands on deck moment and the Justice Department will continue to work with our government partners to investigate, challenge and combat discrimination based on automated systems.”

“Technology marketed as AI has spread to every corner of the economy, and regulators need to stay ahead of its growth to prevent discriminatory outcomes that threaten families’ financial stability,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “Today’s joint statement makes it clear that the CFPB will work with its partner enforcement agencies to root out discrimination caused by any tool or system that enables unlawful decision making.”

“We have come together to make clear that the use of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence, must be consistent with federal laws,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “America’s workplace civil rights laws reflect our most cherished values of justice, fairness and opportunity, and the EEOC has a solemn responsibility to vigorously enforce them in this new context. We will continue to raise awareness on this topic; to help educate employers, vendors and workers; and where necessary, to use our enforcement authorities to ensure AI does not become a high-tech pathway to discrimination.”

“We already see how AI tools can turbocharge fraud and automate discrimination, and we won’t hesitate to use the full scope of our legal authorities to protect Americans from these threats,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “Technological advances can deliver critical innovation – but claims of innovation must not be cover for lawbreaking. There is no AI exemption to the laws on the books, and the FTC will vigorously enforce the law to combat unfair or deceptive practices or unfair methods of competition.”

In the statement, the agencies reaffirmed that their existing legal authorities apply equally to the use of new technologies as they do to any other conduct. The joint statement summarizes recent accomplishments, including policy guidance and enforcement actions, the agencies have taken to combat illegal behavior committed through the use of automated systems. The joint statement also explains common problems related to automated systems, including when those systems rely on data and datasets which incorporate historical bias, that many automated systems are “black boxes” whose internal workings are not clear to most people and that the design of automated systems may not fully contemplate their ultimate use. 

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division’s work to uphold and protect civil and constitutional rights is available online at justice.gov/crt. Complaints about discriminatory practices may be reported to the Civil Rights Division through its internet reporting portal at civilrights.justice.gov.

Updated April 25, 2023

Topic
Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 23-472