In July 2020, New Zealand adopted an Algorithm Charter for government agencies. As noted in the Algorithm Charter, government agencies use data to help inform, improve and deliver services to the population, and rely on algorithms to improve decision-making and efficiencies. However, this also gives rise to new challenges, including that human bias could be perpetuated – or even amplified – by algorithms that are not designed and operated in thoughtful ways.
The Algorithm Charter sets out the following commitments:
- Transparency: To maintain transparency by clearly explaining how decisions are informed by algorithms.
- Partnership: To deliver a clear public benefit by embedding a Maori perspective in the development and use of algorithms consistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
- People: To focus on people by identifying and actively engaging with people, communities and groups who have an interest in algorithms, and consulting with those impacted by their use.
- Data: To ensure that privacy, ethics and human rights are safeguards by regularly peer-reviewing algorithms to assess for unintended consequences and act on this information.
- Human oversight: To retain human oversight by nominating a point of contact for public inquiries about algorithms, providing a channel for challenging or appealing decisions informed by algorithms, and clearly explaining the role of humans in decisions informed by algorithms.
The founding signatories to the Algorithm Charter include the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry for Women, the Ministry for Children, the Ministry for Maori Development, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Inland Revenue Department, the Department of Internal Affairs, the Social Wellbeing Agency and the New Zealand Defence Force.
The Algorithm Charter is accessible here.
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest, and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].