HomeInsightsCentre for Data Ethics and Innovation publishes interim reports on its two major reviews into online targeting and bias in algorithmic decision-making


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The CDEI has published interim reports setting out its approach to exploring the issues of online targeting and bias in algorithmic decision-making. The reports also detail progress to date and the Centre’s emerging insights.

In 2018, the Government consulted on the CDEI and proposed six themes where it could undertake projects to strengthen the governance of data-driven technology. These were: targeting, fairness, transparency, liability, data access, and intellectual property and ownership. Of these, two areas, targeting and fairness, were identified as requiring immediate attention.

The focus of the reviews was agreed with Government as being “online targeting” and “bias in algorithmic decision-making”. These two issues were seen as important given the impact that data-driven technology is having on individuals and society now in relation to both targeting and bias coupled with the need to better understand the governance in both these areas.

The CDEI says that the interim reports are intended to provide an update on its progress to date. The reviews have been informed by:

  • research undertaken by the CDEI’s policy teams;
  • stakeholder engagement with government, regulators, industry and the public;
  • calls for evidence; and
  • landscape summaries, carried out by academics to assess the academic and policy landscape in each of these areas.

The CDEI says that it has purposely taken different approaches to the reviews: the targeting review focuses on specific themes within online targeting and the bias review focuses on specific sectors.

At the highest level, the reviews address the following types of questions:

  • where is the use of technology out of line with public values or the norms defined by our laws and regulations?
  • where can technology positively reinforce these values and address societal issues?
  • where does law and regulation need to be strengthened? Where might existing rules hinder positive innovation? Where do regulators need new skills and capacities to address issues?
  • how can ethics be built into innovation and innovation be directed towards supporting ethics?
  • where are we failing to make use of the benefits of data-driven technology because we have failed to resolve ethical tensions or provided sufficient clarity to innovators?

As well as these two major reviews, the CDEI is working on:

  • a series of snapshot papers on deep fakes, AI and insurance, smart speakers and facial recognition technology to be published from late August 2019;
  • a report on ethical frameworks for data sharing, published in autumn 2019; and
  • a further series of snapshot papers for publication from January 2020.

To read the CDEI’s update in full and for links to the interim reports, click here.