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Opinion D.C. might ban ‘algorithmic discrimination.’ That’s good for everyone.


Cynthia Khoo is a senior associate at the Center on Privacy & Technologyat Georgetown Law and a Canadian technology and human rights lawyer. Daniel Jellins is a staff lawyer and clinical teaching fellow at the Communications & Technology Law Clinic at Georgetown Law.

Apartment-hunting is tough enough without every disappointment also becoming a mystery. The smoking gun, for an increasing number of us, lies in the rise of secretive technological tenant screening tools. With these tools, landlords can reject you based on a computer-generated score that potentially takes your race, gender or disability into account — or any other legally protected characteristic — and no one might ever know.

This system failure doesn’t stop at housing.

Similar software tools can embed hidden discrimination into decisions impacting your life across the board: a college filtering you out, a company not hiring you, a bank denying you credit or a loan, or even a hospital withholding pain medication.

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