ACLU Files Lawsuit On Behalf of Researchers And Journalists Seeking To Uncover Discrimination Online
Forbes - 06/30/2016
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court challenging the constitutionality of a provision of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), stating that the law prevents researchers from collecting data to determine whether online algorithms result in discrimination. The lawsuit, Sandvig v. Lynch, was filed on behalf of academic researchers Christian Sandvig (University of Michigan), Kyratso Karahalios (University of Illinois), Alan Mislove (Northeastern University), Christopher Wilson (Northeastern University), and on behalf of First Look Media Works, publisher of The Intercept.
Researchers often create fake user profiles to scrape public data to see if sites discriminate against specific racial groups, genders, and so forth. This can include scraping publicly available data, or creating multiple dummy accounts with made-up information to compare outcomes of profiles with various races or genders.