UK Government Agrees to Stop Using ‘Visa Streaming’ Algorithm
August 7, 2020
The Home Office of the UK has announced that it will halt the use of its "Visa Streaming" algorithm. This change is the result of a settlement in a lawsuit brought to challenge use of the algorithmic decision system by the UK Government. The system produced a "traffic light" assessment of visa applicants (Green, Yellow, or Red ) that informed how they would be treated during the visa approval process. The algorithm used for the assessments is not transparent, and critics have raised concerns that the system was discriminating against individuals based on their nationality in a discriminatory form. The challengers in the suit alleged that the program violated the Equality Act of 2010, in that the algorithm exacerbated unequal treatment for Visa applicants from particular countries. Secretary of the Home office Priti Patel committed to redesign the program and to consider "issues around unconscious bias and the use of nationality" in the visa application process. EPIC advocates for algorithmic transparency, has counseled the US and EU on responsible AI, and maintains a resource on algorithms used in the US Criminal Justice System.