Alert: Government releases algorithm charter and examines artificial intelligence regulation

On 4 November 2019 the Department of Internal Affairs announced a new project, ‘Re-imagining Regulation in the Age of AI’, which is to be co-sponsored by the New Zealand Government and the World Economic Forum (WEF). The project will “consider approaches to regulate artificial intelligence and bring a New Zealand perspective to a global discussion”.

While it is too early to say what will come out of this project in terms of regulation in New Zealand, the work of the Law Foundation may provide some insight. As noted in our June 2019 article (which can be found here), the Law Foundation is now part way through a three-year project to evaluate legal and policy implications of AI for New Zealand. To find out more about the DIA’s project please check the DIA’s website, assessable here.

This announcement follows the October 2019 release of a draft algorithm charter by the Government. The draft charter is based on recommendations of the 2018 reports into the use of algorithms in Government. For more information on the 2018 report please see our December 2018 article, which can be found here.

The draft charter proposes ten principles that Government agencies would sign up to and apply to the use of operational algorithms over the 5 year period from when the agency signs up.

The ten principles are:

• Clearly explain how significant decisions are informed by algorithms and be clear where this isn’t done for reasons of greater public good (for example, national security).

• Embed a Te Ao Māori perspective in algorithm development or procurement.

• Take into account the perspectives of communities, such as LGBTQI+, Pasifika and people with disabilities as appropriate.

• Identify and consult with groups or stakeholders with an interest in algorithm development.

• Publish information about how data are collected and stored.

• Upon request, offer technical information about algorithms and the data they use.

• Use tools and processes to ensure that privacy, ethics, and human rights considerations are integrated as a part of algorithm development and procurement.

• Regularly collect and review data relating to the implementation and operation of algorithms, and periodically assess this for unintended consequences, for example bias.

• Have a robust approach for peer-reviewing these findings.

• Clearly explain who is responsible for automated decisions and what methods exist for challenge or appeal via a human.

At this stage the Government is seeking feedback on the 10 principles. Feedback can be given until 31 December 2019. If you wish to provide feedback on the draft charter you can do so via the Department of Statistics, by email to Alternatively, get in touch with your usual Lane Neave lawyer to help you provide feedback.

Once finalised, we suggest anyone using alorithms in decision making should consider incorporating these principles into their operational processes.

Business Law team

Gerard DaleClaire EvansGraeme CrombieEvelyn JonesAnna RyanJoelle Grace,  Peter OrpinEllen SewellMatt TolanCarlo WanKristina SutherlandJacob NuttWhitney MooreAlex StoneBen Cooper

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