In celebration of International Access to Information Day and Right to Know Week in NSW 2020, we held an event on AI Transparency in Digital Government with NSW Information Commissioner Elizabeth Tydd, Victorian Information Commissioner Sven Bluemmel and Dr Jat Singh, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge. The discussion focused on the duty government agencies have to disclose algorithms used in providing services and making decisions about services and benefits to citizens.
The Commissioners highlighted that robust procurement processes are essential where technology using algorithms are being procured by agencies. Commissioner Bluemmel said the bar needs to be set really high where the algorithmic decision-making involves people and their liberties and livelihood. Transparency is necessary to understand how the decisions are made in order to assert our rights. Dr Singh pointed out that transparency needs to be meaningful so that it allows us to be able to interrogate, scrutinize and challenge, and it requires organisations to give careful consideration to what is needed to enable adequate transparency of algorithms. Commissioner Tydd stated that agencies should be maintaining an inventory of the algorithms used in government-decision making and that it should be included on agency websites. The final point was that the cost to citizens of exercising the right to access information in relation to decision-making using algorithms should be minimal - that is, the cost should be lower if the information is held in digital form and not increase because a data scientist or lawyer is required to be involved with the access request.
You can access the webinar recording here (complimentary until 31 October 2020). All the resources mentioned in the webinar can be accessed through the following links:
- OVIC - Closer to the Machine: Technical and Social and Legal Aspects of AI
- NSW IPC guidance for agencies to ensure that they embed information access rights into these new technologies and arrangements.
- NSW IPC Fact Sheet: Automated decision-making, digital government and preserving information access rights – for agencies
- Dr Jat Singh and ors Centering the Rule of Law in the Digital State
- Dr Jat Singh and ors Decision Provenance: Harnessing data flow for accountable systems