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The White House Has Questions About AI Surveillance in the Workplace

The request for information is the latest in the administration's work on AI. Last week, four enforcement agencies released a joint letter pledging to enforce anti-discrimination laws in the AI arena.

The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy wants information about automated systems being used in workplaces "to surveil, monitor, evaluate, and manage workers," it says in a request for information released Monday.

"Employers are increasingly investing in technologies that monitor and track workers, and making workplace decisions based on that information," wrote Deirdre Mulligan, deputy U.S. chief technology officer for policy at OSTP and Jenny Yang, deputy assistant to the resident for racial justice and equity at the Domestic Policy Council, in an announcement about the RFI.

Examples include tech used to track workers' performance or communications or more.

"While these technologies can benefit both workers and employers in some cases, they also create serious risks for workers," the pair continues, pointing to potential chilling effects on collective bargaining, the potential for discrimination, privacy risks and more.

The White House is accepting comments through June 15. The request includes specific questions for workers who've used these technologies in the workplace, vendors selling these types of automated systems, researchers, employers, and civil rights and privacy organizations.

Mulligan and Yang write that the information will be used to inform policy as well as share findings and best practices with the public.

This is the latest move in the administration's crackdown on AI-fueled discrimination and civil rights violations in the workplace and in society more broadly.

Already, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Justice Department have released guidance about the growing use of AI in hiring, performance and pay with an eye to preventing discrimination against job seekers and employees with disabilities.

And last week, the two agencies joined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission for a joint announcement putting companies on notice that the agencies will be using existing civil rights, fair competition and consumer protection laws for enforcement around automated systems and AI.