ALGORITHMIC DISCRIMINATION: “Algorithmic discrimination” occurs when automated systems contribute to unjustified different treatment or impacts disfavoring people based on their race, color, ethnicity, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, gender identity, intersex status, and sexual orientation), religion, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or any other classification protected by law. Depending on the specific circumstances, such algorithmic discrimination may violate legal protections. Throughout this framework the term “algorithmic discrimination” takes this meaning (and not a technical understanding of discrimination as distinguishing between items).

AUTOMATED SYSTEM: An “automated system” is any system, software, or process that uses computation as whole or part of a system to determine outcomes, make or aid decisions, inform policy implementation, collect data or observations, or otherwise interact with individuals and/or communities. Automated systems include, but are not limited to, systems derived from machine learning, statistics, or other data processing or artificial intelligence techniques, and exclude passive computing infrastructure. “Passive computing infrastructure” is any intermediary technology that does not influence or determine the outcome of decision, make or aid in decisions, inform policy implementation, or collect data or observations, including web hosting, domain registration, networking, caching, data storage, or cybersecurity. Throughout this framework, automated systems that are considered in scope are only those that have the potential to meaningfully impact individuals’ or communities’ rights, opportunities, or access.

COMMUNITIES: “Communities” include: neighborhoods; social network connections (both online and offline); families (construed broadly); people connected by affinity, identity, or shared traits; and formal organizational ties. This includes Tribes, Clans, Bands, Rancherias, Villages, and other Indigenous communities. AI and other data-driven automated systems most directly collect data on, make inferences about, and may cause harm to individuals. But the overall magnitude of their impacts may be most readily visible at the level of communities. Accordingly, the concept of community is integral to the scope of the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. United States law and policy have long employed approaches for protecting the rights of individuals, but existing frameworks have sometimes struggled to provide protections when effects manifest most clearly at a community level. For these reasons, the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights asserts that the harms of automated systems should be evaluated, protected against, and redressed at both the individual and community levels.

EQUITY: “Equity” means the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals. Systemic, fair, and just treatment must take into account the status of individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; women, girls, and non-binary people; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons; older adults; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.

RIGHTS, OPPORTUNITIES, OR ACCESS: “Rights, opportunities, or access” is used to indicate the scoping of this framework. It describes the set of: civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy, including freedom of speech, voting, and protections from discrimination, excessive punishment, unlawful surveillance, and violations of privacy and other freedoms in both public and private sector contexts; equal opportunities, including equitable access to education, housing, credit, employment, and other programs; or, access to critical resources or services, such as healthcare, financial services, safety, social services, non-deceptive information about goods and services, and government benefits.

SENSITIVE DATA: Data and metadata are sensitive if they pertain to an individual in a sensitive domain (defined below); are generated by technologies used in a sensitive domain; can be used to infer data from a sensitive domain or sensitive data about an individual (such as disability-related data, genomic data, biometric data, behavioral data, geolocation data, data related to interaction with the criminal justice system, relationship history and legal status such as custody and divorce information, and home, work, or school environmental data); or have the reasonable potential to be used in ways that are likely to expose individuals to meaningful harm, such as a loss of privacy or financial harm due to identity theft. Data and metadata generated by or about those who are not yet legal adults is also sensitive, even if not related to a sensitive domain. Such data includes, but is not limited to, numerical, text, image, audio, or video data.

SENSITIVE DOMAINS: “Sensitive domains” are those in which activities being conducted can cause material harms, including significant adverse effects on human rights such as autonomy and dignity, as well as civil liberties and civil rights. Domains that have historically been singled out as deserving of enhanced data protections or where such enhanced protections are reasonably expected by the public include, but are not limited to, health, family planning and care, employment, education, criminal justice, and personal finance. In the context of this framework, such domains are considered sensitive whether or not the specifics of a system context would necessitate coverage under existing law, and domains and data that are considered sensitive are understood to change over time based on societal norms and context.

SURVEILLANCE TECHNOLOGY: “Surveillance technology” refers to products or services marketed for or that can be lawfully used to detect, monitor, intercept, collect, exploit, preserve, protect, transmit, and/or retain data, identifying information, or communications concerning individuals or groups.  This framework limits its focus to both government and commercial use of surveillance technologies when juxtaposed with real-time or subsequent automated analysis and when such systems have a potential for meaningful impact on individuals’ or communities’ rights, opportunities, or access.

UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES: The term “underserved communities” refers to communities that have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life, as exemplified by the list in the preceding definition of “equity.” 

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