Senators Propose Alternative to “Opaque Algorithms”

November 1, 2019

A bipartisan group of Senators has introduced legislation that would give users the option to engage with a platform without being manipulated by algorithms driven by user-specific data. The Filter Bubble Transparency Act, sponsored by Senators Thune (R-SD), Blumenthal (D-CT), Moran (R-Kan.), Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Warner (D-Va.), would require large platforms to provide users with the option of a filter bubble-free view of the information they provide. "This legislation is about transparency and consumer control," said Senator Thune. EPIC board member Shoshana Zuboff said, "Filter bubbles divide and conquer. The Filter Bubble Transparency Act begins the work of breaking this manipulative and divisive cycle." However, the bill stops short of requiring Internet companies to reveal the algorithms used to manipulate users. EPIC first warned the Federal Trade Commission about the risk of opaque search algorithms in 2011. EPIC has since advocated for Algorithmic Transparency and urged adoption of the Universal Guidelines for AI. In a 2017 statement for the Senate Commerce Committee EPIC wrote, "It is becoming increasingly clear that Congress must regulate AI to ensure accountability and transparency."

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