Researchers’ Case Claims Computer Law Chills Push to Uncover Online Discrimination
National Law Journal - 06/30/2016
For years, courts have recognized the use of so-called racially diverse “testers” in the enforcement of federal fair housing laws and Title VII’s ban on job discrimination. A new generation of testers is now exploring discrimination online—whether big-data algorithms could discriminate in finance, employment, real estate and other areas.
A group of researchers and journalists on Wednesday sued the U.S. Justice Department in a challenge to the constitutionality of a federal computer law that potentially criminalizes their effort to audit the new frontier of big data.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in Washington federal district court. The case, Sandvig v. Lynch, raises a First Amendment challenge to a section of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that makes it a crime to violate a website’s terms of service.