The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to show its support for the Automated Decision Systems Accountability Act of 2021, a proposed state law that aims to reduce bias in automated systems that evaluate job applicants.
The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Edwin Chau, D-Arcadia, and would require businesses to regularly check their automated decision systems for bias.
“As more entities develop and rely on the use of algorithm-driven systems in making critical decisions, we need to mitigate any negative impacts they present to people’s lives,” Chau said.
“Establishing accountability and transparency measures for these systems is increasingly urgent, especially as we seek to rebuild our economy in an equitable way following the impacts of COVID-19. If we take no action now, it will become increasingly difficult to implement these regulations since more entities will have deployed an ADS infrastructure without consideration for these issues,” he added.
The bill would also require the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation to create procedures that enable businesses to comply with the law.
The resolution to support the bill was introduced by Councilman Joe Buscaino, who noted that the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 means businesses are receiving an unusually high number of job applications and some are relying on automated decision technology to screen applicants.
“These tools can magnify discriminatory hiring practices in the job market if the underlying data used for such tools is biased,” he said in the resolution.
Buscaino added that the systems can be a tool to fight bias if used properly, since human evaluators can also discriminate against candidates.
The resolution to support the bill passed with 13 yes votes and two members absent.
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