New York City proposes regulating algorithms used in hiring

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In 1964, the Civil Rights Act barred the humans who made hiring decisions from discriminating on the basis of sex or race. Now, software often contributes to those hiring decisions, helping managers screen résumés or interpret video interviews.

That worries some tech experts and civil rights groups, who cite evidence that algorithms can replicate or magnify biases shown by people. In 2018, Reuters reported that Amazon scrapped a tool that filtered résumés based on past hiring patterns because it discriminated against women.

Legislation proposed in the New York City Council seeks to update hiring discrimination rules for the age of algorithms. The bill would require companies to disclose to candidates when they have been assessed with the help of software. Companies that sell such tools would have to perform annual audits to check that their people-sorting tech doesn’t discriminate.

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January 10, 2021