artificial intelligence

Data regulator to probe employers' use of AI for recruitment

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The use of artificial intelligence for recruitment and of algorithms within the benefits system are two areas that the UK’s data protection regulator says it plans to focus on as it sets out its three-year plan.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a commitment to safeguard the information rights of the most vulnerable people, including regulatory work around children’s privacy and AI-driven discrimination.

In ICO25, a three-year plan setting out the body’s regulatory approach and priorities, it says it wants to consider the impact the use AI in recruitment could be having on neurodiverse people or ethnic minorities who weren’t part of the testing for this software.

It also says it wants to ensure that the use of algorithms is not disadvantaging people within the benefits system and that the privacy of children remained protected.

Speaking at the launch of the plan, UK Information Commissioner John Edwards said: “My most important objective is to safeguard and empower people, by upholding their information rights. Empowering people to confidently share their information to use the products and services that drive our economy and society.

“My office will focus our resources where we see data-protection issues are disproportionately affecting already vulnerable or disadvantaged groups. The impact that we can have on people’s lives is the measure of our success. This is what modern data protection looks like, and it is what modern regulation looks like.”

The ICO is a public body set up to uphold information rights in the public interest and promote openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

The report also sets out its commitment to supporting the development of modern freedom of information, including prioritising Freedom of Information complaints and putting a greater emphasis on dispute resolution around complaints.

It says it wants to boost the adherence to data-protection laws by small and medium-sized businesses, as well as improving compliance across Whitehall departments.

“There are few regulators who can say their work is of fundamental importance to the democracy on which society exists. But that is the value of the Freedom of Information Act. My role is to ensure the administration of that law is fit for the modern world,” Edwards added.

“But to achieve that requires fundamental change. And that change has to start in my office. The proposals I set out today involve trying different approaches. Some may work well, some may not work, some may need tweaking.

“But it is absolutely clear to me that in a world of increasing demand, and shrinking resources, we simply cannot keep doing what we’ve been doing and expect the system to improve.”

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