April 25 (UPI) — The Biden administration is warning companies and financial firms that its federal agencies have the ability to crack down on civil rights and other bias violations committed through the use of artificial intelligence.

The warning from the four federal agencies of the Department of Justice, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission comes amid growing concern over the spreading use of advanced technology in daily life and its potential effects on civil rights as well as fair competition and consumer protection.


The four agencies have previously expressed concern about the illegal uses of the rapidly advancing technology, and their warning comes as lawmakers work on legislation on a new regulatory framework for AI.

On Tuesday, they said in a joint statement that automated systems are advertised as providing cost savings and efficiencies, among other benefits, but “their use also has the potential to perpetuate unlawful bias, automate unlawful discrimination and produce other harmful outcomes.”

In their warning, the federal agencies said they are armed with legal authorities to combat the harmful use of automated systems, and that they “take seriously” the responsibility to ensure the deployment of AI is consistent with federal laws.


“We already see how AI tools can turbocharge fraud and automate discrimination, and we won’t hesitate to use the full scope of our legal authorities to protect Americans from these threats,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement.

“There is no AI exemption to the laws on the books, and the FTC will vigorously enforce the law to combat unfair or deceptive practices or unfair methods of competition.”

The agencies explained the potential discrimination of AI may come from automated systems using unrepresentative or imbalanced datasets or datasets that incorporate historical bias as well as from systems engineered by developers on flawed assumptions about its users, context or underlying practices. The systems’ internal workings are also not always made public, creating a lack of transparency and the inability to know whether it is functioning without bias.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division warned social media platforms, banks, landlords, employers and other businesses that use AI and algorithms to make decisions that her agency stands ready to hold them to account if they violate any laws.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment and the Justice Department will continue to work with our government partners to investigate, challenge and combat discrimination based on automated systems,” she said in a statement.


The announcement comes about two weeks after Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced the launch of an effort on regulating AI to ensure the United States stays a step ahead of China in shaping what the technology looks like.