News - Capital University Law School

U.S. Senate Bill Inspired by Professor Hirsch

3/26/2021  - 

A bill to protect consumers from unfair and discriminatory algorithms, introduced by U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) in December 2020, was inspired in part by an article written by Capital University Law School Professor Dennis D. Hirsch.

According to a press release issued by Senator Coons, the bill would ensure that American consumers do not face discrimination by black box algorithms. “As companies are increasingly using complex algorithms to make decisions about opportunities for education, employment, housing, health care and more, the Algorithmic Fairness Act would direct the Federal Trade Commission to prevent companies from acting on algorithmic eligibility determinations that are deemed unfair because they are biased or use incorrect data,” the release stated.

Prof. Hirsch’s article, “From Individual Control to Social Protection: New Paradigms for Privacy Law in The Age of Predictive Analytics,” was published in Maryland Law Review’s second issue of 2020.

The article argued that the risks from predictive analytics require a new paradigm of privacy regulation.  It explained how the Federal Trade Commission could creatively use its unfairness authority to provide the regulatory solution and ensure that private sector algorithmic decision-making is done fairly and does not discriminate against racial minorities and other protected classes.

The article was one of the inspirations for the bill, and Prof. Hirsch had the opportunity to provide input on the bill during the drafting process.  He called it “a really rewarding moment in my career as a law professor.”

“This is one of those rare moments – in my career, at least – when the stars align and scholarship has the chance to cross over into policy,” he said. “It reminds me why we write, and why I am so lucky to be a law professor.”