Labour’s industrial spokesperson has called for the algorithms used by technology firms to be made transparent and subject to regulation.Shadow minister Chi Onwurah wants to see greater scrutiny of the algorithms that now control everything from the tailored news served to Facebook users to the order in which websites are presented in Google search. She said:
Algorithms aren’t above the law. The outcomes of algorithms are regulated — the companies which use them have to meet employment law and competition law. The question is, how do we make that regulation effective when we can’t see the algorithm?
She added in a letter to the Guardian:
Google and others argue their results are a mirror to society, not their responsibility. Google, Facebook and Uber need to take responsibility for the unintended consequences of the algorithms and machine learning that drive their profits. They can bring huge benefits and great apps, but we need a tech-savvy government to minimise the downside by opening up algorithms to regulation as well as legislating for greater consumer ownership of data and control of the advertising revenue it generates.
Labour’s industrial paper, due to be published after the Christmas break, will call for suggestions on how tech firms could be more closely supervised by government.