SIIA Comments on the Use of Data Analytics to Promote Social and Economic Opportunity

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Today SIIA filed comments in the Federal Trade Commission’s Workshop on “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?” The workshop was held on September 15 and usefully framed important developments in the use of data analytics for providing services to low income and underserved consumers and provided a forum for discussion of the possibility of unfair or discriminatory use of data analytics.

I participated on the workshop’s second panel relating to new developments in data analytics.  SIIA’s comments summarize the discussion in that panel and contain additional reflections on the issues raised by the workshop. The main points of the comments are:

  • SIIA members are industry leaders using analytics to promote social and economic opportunity through, for example, alternative credit scoring models, cognitive computing in health care, predictive analytics in education, and detecting discrimination.
  • Adequate and appropriate due diligence and transparency requirements already apply in regulated eligibility contexts such as lending, insurance, housing and employment.
  • Due diligence and transparency mandates should not be applied to new contexts absent a showing that they are needed to prevent tangible harms.
  • Trade secrets and business confidentiality should continue to protect algorithms from disclosures.  Such disclosures do not accomplish any meaningful public policy objective.
  • The focus of policy concern should be on the uses of algorithms, not on the algorithms themselves.
  • The FTC should continue the dialogue and discussion with other expert agencies and stakeholders to promote the positive use of data rather than seek additional laws or regulations.

Stakeholders should continue their discussions on these important issues.  The objective should be for government, industry, academics, and advocates from all sides to gain a shared understanding of how business and other organizations should use the powerful new analytics tools at their disposal to promote inclusion and economic opportunity.

Mark Mark MacCarthy, Senior Vice President, Public Policy at SIIA, directs SIIA’s public policy initiatives in the areas of intellectual property enforcement, information privacy, cybersecurity, cloud computing and the promotion of educational technology. Follow Mark on Twitter at @Mark_MacCarthy.