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EPIC Asks FTC to Regulate Use of AI in Employment Screenings

February 21, 2020 posted by Steve Brownstein

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) — a public research center focusing on privacy issues and based in Washington, DC — has filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish fair trade practices with regards to the commercial use of artificial intelligence (AI).
As Forbes reports, EPIC’s petition stems from a charge the organization made against AI-based pre-employment screening firm HireVue, claiming the company is flouting national and international standards of transparency, fairness and accountability.
Lead Counsel for EPIC, John Davidson, said that the petition “is the first formal effort to establish regulations for commercial AI use in the United States.”
The petition isn’t limited in scope to the use of AI in employment screening, but also includes its use for the ranking of tennis players, the evaluation of potential Airbnb guests, and the use of facial recognition for criminal justice purposes.
EPIC claims that the unregulated use of AI has caused harm to consumers that are becoming increasingly subjected to un-provable decision making in employment, credit, healthcare, housing and criminal justice.
In its petition, EPIC states that businesses “frequently fail to demonstrate that AI decision-making tools are accurate, reliable, or necessary—if businesses even disclose the existence of these tools to consumers in the first place.”
The target of EPIC’s petition, HireVue — a Utah-based company that uses on-line video interviews and video games that employ a proprietary algorithm to analyse a candidate’s voice and appearance — has completed more than 1 million assessments for its more than 700 customers around the world, including among them one third of Fortune 100 companies.
In its petition, EPIC says that HireVue’s use of its algorithm as well as facial recognition and biometric data “constitute unfair and deceptive trade practices.”
EPIC argues that applicants that use HireVue’s services to seek employment have little choice but to submit to its screening practices if they want the job, and that the part of the assessment that requires the applicants to play a video game presents a format that is unfamiliar to older applicants.
HireVue says that it collects tens of thousands of data points and inputs them into its “predictive algorithms” to determine a candidate’s employability, though the company refuses to disclose its algorithm’s selection criteria and doesn’t tell unsuccessful applicants the reasons they were not selected.

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