October 17, 2021

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White House Considers Tech ‘Bill of Rights’

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is urging President Joe Biden to adopt a tech-related bill of rights, focused primarily on artificial intelligence (AI)-related issues, according to a Friday (Oct. 8) Associated Press report.

The office kicked off what the AP calls a “fact-finding mission” related to facial recognition and other biometrics that identify people or gauge their emotional or mental states and character.

Eric Lander, Biden’s chief science adviser, and Alondra Nelson, the deputy director for science and society, also wrote an opinion piece in Wired magazine that explores the need for protections against using AI in malicious ways that discriminate and violate people’s privacy.

“Enumerating the rights is just a first step,” Lander and Nelson wrote in the Wired article. “What might we do to protect them? Possibilities include the federal government refusing to buy software or technology products that fail to respect these rights, requiring federal contractors to use technologies that adhere to this ‘bill of rights,’ or adopting new laws and regulations to fill gaps.”

European Parliament lawmakers this week mulled a ban on biometric mass surveillance, including a vote to block law enforcement officials from scanning people’s faces in public areas.

Software trade association BSA, with support from Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce, said it welcomed the White House’s exploration into preventing AI bias, but the group is calling for a provision that forces companies to look into the risks of their AI-based tools and demonstrate how they will limit those risks.

“It enables the good that everybody sees in AI, but minimizes the risk that it’s going to lead to discrimination and perpetuate bias,” Aaron Cooper, the group’s vice president of global policy, told the AP.

Related news: White House Mulls Executive Order for Crypto Guidance

The White House is also considering an executive order that would require federal agencies to craft recommendations regarding the “relevant areas of crypto.” Areas explored could include regulation, economic innovation, national security and the sharing of cryptocurrency-related information among executive branch agencies.

Part of the executive order could require other government departments that have not previously focused on crypto to turn some attention to it, and there’s a chance of the White House hiring a cryptocurrency czar to oversee the regulation.

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