Section 1 - Description
Section 2 - Scope
Section 3 - Requirements
Section 4 - Penalties
Section 5 - Status
Washington DC’s “Stop Discrimination by Algorithms” Act would prohibit individuals and organizations from using biased algorithms and require them to conduct annual bias audits.
The law would apply to any individuals, companies or groups of any type who meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Process or control personal information for more than 25,000 DC residents
- Generate at least $15MM per year of revenue over the past 3 years
- Broker data or generate at least 50% of their revenue from brokering data that includes personal information of DC residents
- Vendors that perform algorithmic eligibility determinations or algorithmic information availability determinations on behalf of another business
The act focuses on processes that use machine learning, AI or similar techniques to replace or assist decision making related to access of “important life opportunities.” The bill considers employment, education, credit, insurance, housing, or access to places of public accommodation.
Individuals and organizations in scope would be subject to the following requirements:
- The use of biased algorithms is prohibited. The bill focuses on the 21 protected characteristics listed in the DC Human Rights Act.
- They must conduct annual bias audits. Companies are required to share with the Office of the Attorney General details of bias audits and documentation about how the algorithms are built and used. The bill does not specify exactly what the bias audit should test or what data should be used.
Companies must publish disclosures to consumers about how they collect personal information and how their algorithms make decisions. Companies must also share explanations to the consumer if the algorithm denies them access to a service, including a method for consumers to submit corrections.
Businesses are liable to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation. The bill also allows for civil lawsuits where plaintiffs could receive $100 to $10,000 per violation, or damages.
The bill was reintroduced in February 2023; It was first introduced in 2021 where it failed to move ahead in the legislation process. To date, the reintroduced bill has not been voted on. Once passed it would enter effect immediately.