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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB asks tech workers to report AI lending discrimination

Federal Issues CFPB Artificial Intelligence Fintech Whistleblower Fair Lending Consumer Finance

Federal Issues

On December 15, the CFPB released a blog post calling on technology workers to report potential violations of federal consumer financial laws, including related to artificial intelligence (AI), as part of the Bureau’s efforts to adapt to the evolving financial landscape. According to the Bureau, AI has become a part of nearly every consumer financial market, creating the potential for intentional and unintentional discrimination within the decision-making process. As an example, while algorithmic mortgage underwriting has the potential to reduce discrimination, the Bureau warned that “researchers found discriminatory effects of these new technologies, as Black and Hispanic families have been more likely to be denied a mortgage compared to similarly situated white families.” The Bureau asked tech workers, including engineers, data scientists, and others with detailed knowledge of these algorithms and technologies, to report potential discrimination or other misconduct to the Bureau to help ensure these technologies are not being misused or abused. “Tech workers may have entered the field to change the world for the better, but then discover their work being misused or abused for unlawful ends,” CFPB Chief Technologist Erie Meyer stated. The Bureau updated its whistleblower webpage to provide additional information on the whistleblower submission process, and noted that fair lending experts and technologists will review submitted whistleblower tips. The webpage also describes the type of information the Bureau is seeking, and outlines whistleblower protections.

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