Algorithms are the fundamental invisible building blocks of our digital societies. However, there is no legislation, best practice or guidance on algorithmic accountability or transparency. The EU has taken some action, but lacks a general framework on the matter.
The issue of algorithms has been loosely addressed in the Commission’s ‘Platforms Communication’, in which it calls for ‘greater transparency’ so that users ‘understand how the information presented to them is filtered, shaped or personalised, especially when this information forms the basis of purchasing decisions or influences their participation in civic or democratic life’.
The EU has also adopted a new legislative package on data protection, to come into force in 2018, which includes a requirement concerning data-driven decisions that are based ‘solely on automated processing’ and ‘significantly affect’ citizens. Such processing is subject to safeguards.
Recently, Parliament’s Committee on the internal market and Consumer Protection proposed a pilot project on algorithms, which I authored. This project aims to raise consumer awareness about algorithms and assess the spectrum of their positive and negative impacts.
What does the Commission intend to do in terms of advancing algorithmic accountability and transparency?