New Zealand launches draft algorithm charter for government agencies

Mia Hunt at Global Government Forum: “The New Zealand government has launched a draft ‘algorithm charter’ that sets out how agencies should analyse data in a way that is fair, ethical and transparent.

The charter, which is open for public consultation, sets out 10 points that agencies would have to adhere to. These include pledging to explain how significant decisions are informed by algorithms or, where it cannot – for national security reasons, for example – explain the reason; taking into account the perspectives of communities, such as LGBTQI+, Pacific islanders and people with disabilities; and identifying and consulting with groups or stakeholders with an interest in algorithm development.

Agencies would also have to publish information about how data is collected and stored; use tools and processes to ensure that privacy, ethics, and human rights considerations are integrated as part of algorithm development and procurement; and periodically assess decisions made by algorithms for unintended bias.

They would commit to implementing a “robust” peer-review process, and have to explain clearly who is responsible for automated decisions and what methods exist for challenge or appeal “via a human”….

The charter – which fits on a single page, and is designed to be simple and easily understood – explains that algorithms are a “fundamental element” of data analytics, which supports public services and delivers “new, innovative and well-targeted” policies aims.

The charter begins: “In a world where technology is moving rapidly, and artificial intelligence is on the rise, it’s essential that government has the right safeguards in place when it uses public data for decision-making. The government must ensure that data ethics are embedded in its work, and always keep in mind the people and communities being served by these tools.”

It says Stats NZ, the country’s official data agency, is “committed to transparent and accountable use of operational algorithms and other advanced data analytics techniques that inform decisions significantly impacting on individuals or groups”….(More)”.