uk-to-end-controversial-visa-screening-algorithm

UK to end controversial visa screening algorithm

U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel | Pool photo by Charlotte Graham/Getty Images

UK to end controversial visa screening algorithm

Priti Patel halts use of tool which was accused of racial bias.

By

8/4/20, 12:57 PM CET

Updated 8/4/20, 1:31 PM CET

The U.K. Home Office will scrap an algorithm used to screen visa applicants, according to a ministry letter received by tech justice group Foxglove.

Home Secretary Priti Patel “has decided she will discontinue the use of the streaming tool pending a redesign of the process and the way in which visa applications are allocated for decision-making,” said the letter, which was addressed to the rights groups and dated Monday.

The groups argued the algorithm was racist, and favored applications from countries with a predominantly white population.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, supported by Foxglove, asked a court to declare the algorithm unlawful and order a halt to its use. The Home Office wrote it would suspend the algorithm from Friday pending a system redesign before the case went to court.

The government department said it would do equality and data protection impact assessments for an interim system, and planned to have a fully-fledged replacement program in place by October 30.

Foxglove legal director Cori Crider said she was “delighted” that the government had scrapped the tool. “Racist feedback loops meant that what should have been a fair migration process was, in practice, just speedy boarding for white people. What we need is democracy, not government by secret algorithm.”

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