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Algorithms Can’t Excuse Discrimination

November 20, 2019 In Design News,Digital Freedom
Algorithms Can’t Excuse Discrimination
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is considering adopting new rules that would effectively insulate landlords, banks, and insurance companies that use algorithmic models from lawsuits that claim their practices have an unjustified discriminatory effect. HUD’s proposal is flawed, and suggests that the agency doesn’t understand how machine learning and other algorithmic tools work in practice. Algorithmic tools are increasingly relied upon to make assessments of tenants’ creditworthiness and risk, and HUD’s proposed rules will make it all but impossible to enforce the Fair Housing Act into the future. 
It’s critically important that HUD hear from a variety of people about the problems their proposal raises. If you share EFF’s concerns, please use the template for comments we’ve drafted to share your concerns, and add your own personal thoughts on why this issue is so important to you.
How to Make Sure the Tech You Use and Build Reflects Your Values
Technology should empower you. It should put you in control. You should not feel used by the company that provides it to you. And if you’re a builder of technologies, we believe you should always carry the responsibility to empower your users. Ultimately you should be able to say that you are proud of what you built.
But when we regularly see headlines about how technology companies have abused our privacy or provided data for surveillance programs, it’s hard to feel like we’re in control of the technologies we use or build, much less that we have any power to change what is happening in front of us. Yet there are measures we can all take—as employees, contractors and customers—to help push companies toward becoming far better stewards for the powerful technologies they offer to the world. 
EFF Updates
The Open Letter from the Governments of US, UK, and Australia to Facebook is An All-Out Attack on Encryption
Attorney General William Barr and his counterparts in the UK and Australia have sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg telling him to abandon plans to embrace end-to-end encryption throughout Facebook messaging platforms. It’s a staggering attempt to undermine the privacy of communications tools used by billions of people, and EFF, along with more than one hundred other civil society groups, has urged Facebook not to comply.
European Court’s Decision in Right To Be Forgotten Case is a Win for Free Speech
In a significant victory for free speech rights, the European Union’s highest court ruled that the EU’s Right to Be Forgotten does not require Google to delist search results globally, thus keeping the results available to be seen by users around the world.
The EU standard, established in 2014, lets individuals in member states demand that search engines not show search results containing old information about them when their privacy rights outweigh the public’s interest in having continued access to the information.
Innocent Users Have the Most to Lose in the Rush to Address Extremist Speech Online
Big online platforms tend to brag about their ability to filter out violent and extremist content at scale, but those same platforms refuse to provide even basic information about the substance of those removals. How do these platforms define terrorist content? What safeguards do they put in place to ensure that they don’t over-censor innocent people in the process? Again and again, social media companies are unable or unwilling to answer the questions.
Facebook’s Social Media Council Leaves Key Questions Unanswered
Facebook took big step forward this week in its march to create an “oversight board” to help vet its more controversial takedown decisions, publishing more details about how it will work. Both Facebook and its users will be able to refer cases to the Board to request its review. Is this big step a big deal for online speech? Maybe not, but it’s worth paying attention.
Announcements
International Day Against DRM
 
At noon on Saturday October 12, come join a protest against textbook DRM at the Pearson Education building at 501 Boylston Street in Boston. This event is hosted by the Free Software Foundation, not EFF. Every year FSF’s campaign Defective by Design Lab organizes the International Day Against DRM (IDAD) to mobilize protests, grassroots activism, and actions against the grave threat of DRM. This year, FSF is calling on Pearson and similar companies to stop putting a lock on our learning, and drop DRM from their electronic textbooks and course materials. Later in the day, FSF is holding a hackathon to create collaborative and DRM-free textbooks. 
 
Gone Phishing: How to Recognize Fake Websites and Other Online Scams
On Saturday Oct. 12, Brooklyn’s Tech Learning Collective invites you to join us for a combination “attack/defense” exercise focused on Web-based social engineering attacks. Participants will practice both how to launch their own attacks as well as how to defend against them. RSVPs are requested, and sliding scale registration is available.
FSF Continuing Legal Education Seminar on GPL Enforcement and Legal Ethics
On Oct. 16 in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Free Software Foundation Licensing and Compliance Lab will work with experienced lawyers and professionals to provide a full day continuing legal education (CLE) seminar on GPL Enforcement and Legal Ethics. This FSF event is appropriate for legal professionals, law students, free software developers, and anyone interested in licensing issues.
Job Openings
Development Director
EFF seeks a Development Director to lead the organization’s fundraising programs and join EFF’s senior leadership. The Development Director will take charge of EFF’s eleven-person Development Team in their efforts to raise over $13 million each year. This person will lead, support, and build the capacity of our growing development team, manage all aspects of our development strategy, and have a strong focus on building our individual major donor and grant fundraising capacity. The right candidate will possess rich experience, joy and skill in fundraising, talent for creating authentic relationships, resistance to fundraising cliches and passion for the roles of online privacy, free expression, and innovation in a successful democracy. 
Community Manager
EFF seeks a full-time Community Manager to work with our Organizing team. This team supports the Electronic Frontier Alliance (EFA), a grassroots network of community and campus organizations across the United States working to educate their neighbors about the importance of digital rights and security.
Organizer
EFF is looking for an experienced community organizer with compelling public speaking skills, to support our local advocacy efforts and engage in community outreach. The focus is on technical communities and hackerspaces.
The ideal candidate will have passion for protecting digital freedom, and will excel at bringing people together to work for a common purpose. The Organizer will work closely with the Activism team, and spend part of their time traveling throughout the U.S. to speak at events and facilitate workshops, and part of their time at our home office in San Francisco. 
 
MiniLinks
Tech Companies Are Quietly Phasing Out a Major Privacy Safeguard
More and more companies are failing to issue transparency reports to tell consumers how much of their information governments have demanded. (The Atlantic)
Amid crackdown, leading Egyptian rights activist is arrested
A leading Egyptian pro-democracy activist was re-arrested while on probation amid a sweeping security clampdown following small but rare anti-government protests earlier this month. (AP)
Secret F.B.I. Subpoenas Scoop Up Personal Data From Scores of Companies 
The F.B.I. has used secret subpoenas to obtain personal data from far more companies than previously disclosed, newly released documents show. (New York Times)
Supported by Donors
Our members make it possible for EFF to bring legal and technological expertise into crucial battles about online rights. Whether defending free speech online or challenging unconstitutional surveillance, your participation makes a difference. Every donation gives technology users who value freedom online a stronger voice and more formidable advocate. Check out our FAQ for information on memberships, donations, shop orders, corporate giving, matching gifts, and other ways to give. https://www.eff.org/pages/membership-faq
If you aren’t already, please consider becoming an EFF member today.
Supported by DonorsOur members make it possible for EFF to bring legal and technological expertise into crucial battles about online rights. Whether defending free speech online or challenging unconstitutional surveillance, your participation makes a difference. Every donation gives technology users who value freedom online a stronger voice and more formidable advocate. Check out our FAQ for information on memberships, donations, shop orders, corporate giving, matching gifts, and other ways to give. https://www.eff.org/pages/membership-faqIf you aren’t already, please consider becoming an EFF member today.