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New bill would let defendants inspect algorithms used against them in court

An illustration depicting a feature-less face against a pink, white, and blue background.
Illustration: Alex Castro / The Verge

A pair of Democratic lawmakers are seeking to give defendants more information about algorithms used against them in a criminal trial.

Reps. Mark Takano (D-CA) and Dwight Evans (D-PA) reintroduced the Justice in Forensic Algorithms Act on Thursday, which would allow defendants to access the source code of software used to analyze evidence in their criminal proceedings. It would also require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create testing standards for forensic algorithms, which software used by federal enforcers would need to meet.

The bill would act as a check on unintended outcomes that could be created by using technology to help solve crimes. Academic research has highlighted the ways human bias can be…

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