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5 agencies join Justice in pledge to protect civil rights against AI-fueled discrimination

The agencies pledged to use their existing enforcement authorities to tackle cases where artificial intelligence may impact Americans’ civil rights.

The Department of Justice announced on Friday that five additional federal agencies had added their names to a pledge to leverage their existing powers to police the misuse of AI.

The new agencies include the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor joined Justice — as well as the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

“Federal agencies are sending a clear message: we will use our collective authority and power to protect individual rights in the wake of increased reliance on artificial intelligence in various aspects of American life,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in a press release. “As social media platforms, banks, landlords, employers and other businesses choose to rely on artificial intelligence, algorithms and automated systems to conduct business, we stand ready to hold accountable those entities that fail to address the unfair and discriminatory outcomes that may result.”

The statement debuted in April 2023, spearheaded by Justice, the FTC, the EEOC and the CFPB. 

In addition to the new agencies signing onto the pledge, Clarke announced a webpage dedicated to AI and civil rights hosted on Justice’s Civil Rights Division site. This effort also featured a recent meeting with all participating agency representatives, where Justice’s chief AI officer spoke on the department’s efforts to mitigate AI-based risks. 

The agencies have pledged to continue developing strategies for enforcement, public engagement and interagency coordination on these efforts. The press release also noted that guidance and best practices required of these agencies under President Joe Biden’s October 2023 executive order on AI may be available by the end of April, the press release added. 

“Today, our agencies reiterate our resolve to monitor the development and use of automated systems and promote responsible innovation,” the announcement reads. “We also pledge to vigorously use our collective authorities to protect individuals’ rights regardless of whether legal violations occur through traditional means or advanced technologies.”