Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation publishes interim reports on online targeting and bias in algorithmic decision-making

July 21, 2019

The CDEI has published interim reports setting out its approach to exploring the issues of online targeting and bias in algorithmic decision-making. The reports also detail its progress to date, along with emerging insights.

In 2018, the Government consulted on the CDEI and proposed six themes where it could undertake projects to strengthen the governance of data-driven technology. These were: targeting, fairness, transparency, liability, data access, and intellectual property and ownership. Of these, two areas, targeting and fairness, were identified as requiring immediate attention. These two issues were seen as important given the impact that data-driven technology is having on individuals and society now in relation to both targeting and bias coupled with the need to better understand the governance in both these areas.

The interim reports are intended to provide an update on the CDEI’s progress to date regarding these two reviews, which says that it is in a unique position to explore the issues of bias and targeting, given its independence, its cross-sector remit, and its mandate to provide recommendations to government. It has purposely taken different approaches to the reviews: the targeting review focuses on specific themes within online targeting and the bias review focuses on specific sectors. This allows it to understand and analyse the landscape through various lenses, with a view to developing robust and thorough recommendations in its final reports.

At the highest level, the reviews are addressing the following types of questions:

  • Where is the use of technology out of line with public values or the norms defined by our laws and regulations
  • Where can technology positively reinforce these values and address societal issues?
  • Where does law and regulation need to be strengthened? Where might existing rules hinder positive innovation? Where do regulators need new skills and capacities to address issues?
  • How can ethics be built into innovation and innovation be directed towards supporting ethics?
  • Where are we failing to make use of the benefits of data-driven technology because we have failed to resolve ethical tensions or provided sufficient clarity to innovators?

As well as these two major reviews, the CDEI is working on:

  • a summer series of snapshot papers on deep fakes, AI and insurance, smart speakers and facial recognition technology to be published from July to September 2019
  • a report on ethical frameworks for data sharing, published in Autumn 2019
  • a further winter series of snapshot papers for publication between December 2019 and February 2020.