EPIC Obtains DOJ Report on Predictive Policing and AI – “Individual liberty is at stake”

March 20, 2020

EPIC, through a FOIA request, lawsuit, and negotiated settlement, has obtained a 2014 report from the Department of Justice to former President Obama warning about the dangers of predictive analytics and algorithms in law enforcement. The Justice Department report highlights the risks of “making decisions about sentencing—where individual liberty is at stake in the most fundamental way—based on historical data about other people,” stating that “equal justice demands that sentencing determinations be based primarily on the defendant’s own conduct and criminal history.” Even when algorithms “seem neutral, any model is susceptible to importing any biases reflected in the underlying data,” the report Predictive Analytics in Law Enforcement explains. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that “basing sentencing decisions on static factors and immutable characteristics . . . may exacerbate unwarranted and unjust disparities that are already far too common in our criminal justice system and in our society.” The case, which was before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, has now settled and EPIC will receive attorneys fees for its work on the matter. The case is EPIC v. DOJ, No. 18-5307 (D.C. Cir.).

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