Home Office review of algorithms in visa and immigration service is timely

Algorithm code on laptop screen

Welcoming news that the Home Office is to suspend and review pre-decisions by algorithm in visas and immigration, Law Society of England and Wales president Simon Davis said: “It is good news that the Home Office will review the system of visa and immigration pre-decisions by an algorithm, which we believe is unsafe.

"The Law Society has been raising the alarm for some time that there are systemic risks with using algorithms to filter immigration applications, as this process may embed bias against certain groups of people based on generic markers such as nationality, country of origin, age or whether they have travelled before.

“We urgently need a legal framework for the use of algorithms by all public bodies and government – as there is a real risk of unlawful deployment, or of discrimination or bias that may be unwittingly built into an algorithm or introduced by an operator.

“Greater transparency, oversight and accountability around the use of algorithms in the justice system would protect the rule of law and help maintain trust in the justice system.”

Notes to editors

The Law Society's report on the use of algorithms in the justice system

The Home Office decision follows judicial review by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and Foxglove

The Chief Inspector of Borders report of 2016-17 raises concerns about the use of algorithms in immigration decision-making

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