THE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) system used by the UK Home office to filter visa applications is "biased" and offers "speedy boarding for white people."
That's according to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), which recently filed a legal case to force the Home Office to explain how the AI system actually works.
The case is supported by Foxglove, an advocacy group promoting justice in the technology sector.
According to the Guardian, JCWI and Foxglove suspect that the AI 'streaming tool' used by the Home Office creates three channels for UK visa applicants, one of which offers "fast boarding for white people".
In June, a report by the Financial Times revealed for the first time that the Home Office had been using a secretive algorithm to filter visa applications, which could be discriminating against some applicants on the basis of their age and nationality.
The report said that the tool marks visa applications as green, amber or red, on the basis of their level of risk.
At that time, the Home Office refused to reveal any details about the factors that it was using to assess the level of risk. The Office also declined to provide information about how regularly the algorithm is updated, as it feared that could encourage fraudulent applications.
According to the Home Office, its system is used only to allocate applications, and a final decision on a visa application is taken by human caseworkers.
"The streaming tool is only used to allocate applications, not to decide them," a spokesperson for the Home Office said.
"It uses data to indicate whether an application might require more or less scrutiny and it complies fully with the relevant legislation under the Equalities Act 2010."
Cori Crider, a director at Foxglove, is dissatisfied with the statement from the Home Office: "If your algorithm singles out people for a digital pat-down and offers speedy boarding to white people, well, that's unlawful," Crider argued.
Through its legal challenge, the JCWI is now demanding from the Home Office detailed information about "policy and guidance documents that deal with the process of streaming visa applications and the use of the streaming tool."
It also seeks technical details about the streaming tool as well as the case-working targets into each of the three categories.
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