FTC Hearing Examines Consumer Protection Issues with the Use of Algorithms, AI, and Predictive Analytics

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On November 13 to 14, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – a U.S. government agency promoting consumer protection – held the seventh session of its Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century to examine competition and consumer protection issues associated with the use of algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI), and predictive analytics in business decisions and conduct.

The FTC Hearing 7 – co-sponsored by Howard University and held at the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C. – examined current and potential uses of algorithms, AI, and predictive analytics along with the ethical and consumer protection issues associated with their use and how competitive dynamics and industry conduct are affected by the use of these technologies. Here are links to sessions from the FTC Hearing:

To further consider these issues, the FTC seeks public comment on the questions listed here and welcomes input on other related topics. Comments should be submitted here no later than February 15, 2019. If any entity has provided funding for research, analysis, or commentary that is included in a submitted public comment, such funding and its source should be identified on the first page of the comment.

For more information about the seventh session of the FTC’s Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century that examined competition and consumer protection issues associated with the use of algorithms, AI, and predictive analytics, interested parties can view the Agenda, the Speaker Bios, the Presentation Slides from Day 1 and Day 2, and the Full Transcripts from Day 1 and Day 2.

The FTC Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century examine whether broad-based changes in the economy, evolving business practices, new technologies, or international developments might require adjustments to competition and consumer protection law, enforcement priorities, and policy. To learn more, visit www.ftc.gov/policy/hearings-competition-consumer-protection.

The FTC also helps to enforce the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law that governs the use of background checks by employers for employment purposes. In July 2018, ESR News reported that the FTC testified before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee that “vigorous” enforcement of the FCRA remained a top priority and outlined efforts to educate consumers and businesses about the law.

Testifying on behalf of the FTC at a hearing on credit bureaus and the FCRA, Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, noted that the FTC has played a key role in the implementation, enforcement, and interpretation of the FCRA since its enactment in 1970. He noted that “vigorous enforcement of the FCRA continues to be a top priority” for the FTC.

The FCRA requires Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) – the FCRA’s term for background check firms – to follow reasonable procedures to ensure they provide information in consumer reports to recipients with a “permissible purpose,” maintain reasonable procedures to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of the information, and allow consumers to dispute and correct information in their consumer reports.

Mithal testified that the FTC has brought more than 30 actions to enforce the FCRA against CRAs, users of consumer reports, and furnishers of information to CRAs in the last decade. As the consumer reporting system evolves and new technologies and business practices emerge, the FTC continues to educate businesses that conduct background checks on their respective rights and obligations under the FCRA.

ESR Adheres to FTC Regulations for Background Checks

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – adheres to FTC regulations regarding background checks. ESR was also one of the first adopters of the Privacy Shield Framework, which the FTC helps to enforce, and has certified its adherence to the EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework. For more information about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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