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DC Council Responds to Concerns Over Algorithm Discrimination Act Raised by Association & Other Stakeholders

Robert While, Chair of the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities, issued a statement affirming his commitment to advancing the Stop Discrimination By Algorithms Act of 2021, but that the bill as drafted raises legitimate concerns that need to be addressed.

White said, “Unfortunately, there is not enough time before the end of the Council period to move this bill forward in a way that effectively bars harmful discrimination without substantially disrupting the central and often positive role that algorithms play in broad swaths of our economy.” He went on to state that his committee, “…will not mark up the Stop Discrimination by Algorithms Act before the end of this Council session.”

“The Association is pleased that Chairman Robert White has made the decision to take more time to work with the advocates to sort out the various issues raised,” said MD|DC Credit Union Association president/CEO John Bratsakis. Bratsakis testified in opposition to the bill back in September. 

The Association has been highly engaged in discussions about the bill, attending dozens of meetings with the Commissioner of the DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, DC Councilmembers and other stakeholder including, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, DC Chamber of Commerce, and the American Financial Services Association.  

The Association’s position is that the bill, which has the noble intention of prohibiting organizations from using algorithms to discriminate against individuals in certain life decision scenarios, is flawed and creates several serious concerns. Most notably, the bill as drafted:

• Creates a requirement for organizations to audit their algorithms for discriminatory impacts and report this information to the attorney general
• Authorizes both the attorney general and individuals to bring a civil action against anyone in violation of the law.

Moving forward, the Association will remain focused on making credit union concerns heard and will continue to push for a fair and reasonable bill.

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