EPIC Asks Federal Trade Commission To Regulate Use Of Artificial Intelligence In Pre-Employment Scre
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has charged that HireVue, a leading provider of artificial intelligence-based pre-employment screenings, is flouting national and international standards of transparency, fairness and accountability.
EPIC filed a petition Monday asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish fair trade practices regarding the commercial use of artificial intelligence (AI). Epic is a public interest research center based in Washington, DC that focuses on privacy issue.
EPIC Counsel John Davisson said the petition “is the first formal effort to establish regulations for commercial AI use in the United States.”
The group claims the unregulated use of AI techniques has caused serious harm to consumers who are increasingly subject to opaque and un-provable decision-making in employment, credit, healthcare, housing, and criminal justice.
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”
One Million Assessments And Counting
According to EPIC, the use of AI in employment screenings is sweeping the country.
In its petition, EPIC argues that HireVue’s use of facial recognition technology, biometric data and secret, unproven algorithms “constitute unfair and deceptive trade practices.”
On its web site, HireVue states it is transforming the way companies “discover, hire and develop talent” through on-line video interviews and video games that use a proprietary algorithm to analyse candidate’s voice and appearance. The company says it has more than 700 customers globally, including one-third of Fortune 100 companies, and has completed more than one million assessments.
Businesses using AI routinely refuse to reveal the method and logic of their predictive systems - EPIC
EPIC filed a complaint with the FTC against HireVue last fall, arguing that job applicants who seek employment at a company that uses HireVue’s algorithmic assessment services have little choice but to submit to screening if they want the job. HireVue refuses to disclose its algorithm’s selection criteria or to tell unsuccessful applicants why they were not selected.
HireVue states it collects tens of thousands of data points that are input into “predictive algorithms” that determine the candidates’s employability, including psychological traits and social aptitudes.
A spokesperson for HireVue, a Utah-based company, said Wednesday that EPIC’s complaint is without merit, adding HireVue upholds the “highest levels of rigor and ethics as we work every day to increase fairness and objectivity in the hiring process.” He said HireVue adheres to standards set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and collaborates with civil rights agencies and data security and privacy experts.
Epic maintains HireVue flouts guidelines on AI use promulgated by, among other organizations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The U.S. in 2019 joined 41 other countries to endorse the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence, which require fairness, transparency and accountability.
The OECD’s principles state organizations using AI must “provide meaningful information, appropriate to the context, and consistent with the state of art: . . . to enable those adversely affected by an AI system to challenge its outcome based on plain and easy-to-understand information on the factors, and the logic that served as the basis for the prediction, recommendation or decision.”
Epic also cited two other providers in its petition, Talview Inc., which offers a suite of AI-powered resume scanning, and Affectiva, Inc. which “analyzes human states in context,” using “computer vision, speech analytics, deep learning and a lot of data.”
EPIC states that several FTC Commissioners have called for updated regulations to address the challenges of Artificial Intelligence and pointed to the recent OMB Guidance for Regulation of Artificial Intelligence in support of the FTC rulemaking.
One of the most troubling of Hirevue’s offerings, which is not mentioned by EPIC, is the use of a pre-screening tool that requires applicants to play video games, a format that is unfamiliar to many older workers.
HireVue customers include Hilton, Ikea, Oracle, Dow Jones, Koch Industries, Unilever, Urban Outfitters, Carnival, Under Armor, Dunkin’ Brands, Keurig Dr. Pepper, Staples, Penguin Random House and Anheuser-Busch, etc.
by Patricia Barnes