Our Work

We produce independent, proactive policy reports, empirical studies, and research articles to surface new questions, provide factual support, and explain the hidden role that technology often plays in shaping people’s rights and opportunities. Our research supports a wide range of advocacy strategies and outputs — including testimony, regulatory filings, amicus briefs, legal support, and coalition work— to build momentum toward broad structural changes.

Our Work

We produce independent, proactive policy reports, empirical studies, and research articles to surface new questions, provide factual support, and explain the hidden role that technology often plays in shaping people’s rights and opportunities. Our research supports a wide range of advocacy strategies and outputs — including testimony, regulatory filings, amicus briefs, legal support, and coalition work— to build momentum toward broad structural changes.

Logan Koepke, Emma Weil, Urmila Janardan, Tinuola Dada and Harlan Yu October 20, 2020

Mass Extraction

This report is the most comprehensive examination of U.S. law enforcement’s use of mobile device forensic tools. Our research shows that every American is at risk of having their phone forensically searched by law enforcement.

Policing
all policing all report Logan Koepke, Emma Weil, Urmila Janardan, Tinuola Dada and Harlan Yu 2020-10-20 00:00:00 +0000 Executive Summary Every day, law enforcement agencies across the country search thousands of cellphones, typically incident to arrest. To search phones, law enforcement agencies use mobile device forensic tools (MDFTs), a powerful technology that allows police to extract a full copy of data from a cellphone — all emails, texts, photos, location, app data, and more — which can then be programmatically searched. As one expert puts it, with the amount of sensitive information stored on smartphon...
Natasha Duarte and Tinuola Dada October 30, 2020

DC Council Testimony on Eviction Record Sealing Authority Amendment Act

Upturn submitted this testimony in support of DC legislation that would seal many eviction records and limit their use to make housing decisions.

Housing
all housing all written-testimony Natasha Duarte and Tinuola Dada 2020-10-30 00:00:00 +0000 Upturn submitted this testimony in support of DC legislation that would seal many eviction records and limit their use to make housing decisions. Millions of people are evicted every year, and many end up locked out of future housing opportunities simply for having an eviction record in their name, regardless of the circumstances or outcome of the case. Eviction record sealing measures are an urgently necessary step toward housing more people.
Natasha Duarte and Tinuola Dada October 27, 2020

DC Council Testimony on Fair Tenant Screening Act

Upturn testified in support of a bill to make it harder for landlords to reject tenants because of eviction records and credit history.

Housing
all housing all written-testimony Natasha Duarte and Tinuola Dada 2020-10-27 00:00:00 +0000 The DC Council is considering several renter protections that housing advocates have been working on for years. Upturn testified in support of a bill to make it harder for landlords to reject tenants because of eviction records and credit history. We described how tenant screening companies work, and explained why the DC Council should ensure the efficacy of fair housing and tenant screening rules by covering tenant screening companies.
Emily Paul, Logan Koepke, Urmila Janardan, Aaron Rieke, and Natasha Duarte October 15, 2020

Amicus Brief on Probabilistic DNA Analysis

Working with the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School, we filed a brief in *New Jersey v. Pickett* supporting the defense’s request to fully examine TrueAllele, the probabilistic DNA analysis software used in the case, in order to assess its reliability.

Criminal Courts
all criminal-courts all amicus-brief Emily Paul, Logan Koepke, Urmila Janardan, Aaron Rieke, and Natasha Duarte 2020-10-15 00:00:00 +0000 Working with the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School, we filed a brief with the Superior Court of New Jersey in New Jersey v. Pickett supporting the defense’s request to fully examine TrueAllele, the probabilistic DNA analysis software used in the case, in order to assess its reliability. TrueAllele has not been validated through independent studies and its source code has never been independently reviewed. Our brief argued that each aspect of TrueAllele must be subject to independent and ...
Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, Sarika Ram, and Logan Koepke July 07, 2020

Amicus brief on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

This brief argues that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act should not criminalize violations of computer use policies, like terms of service.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all amicus-brief Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, Sarika Ram, and Logan Koepke 2020-07-07 00:00:00 +0000 Alongside the ACLU, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, First Look Media, and several academics, we filed an amicus brief in Van Buren v. United States of America, a case in front of the Supreme Court. Our brief argued that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act should not criminalize violations of computer use policies, like terms of service. Such a broad interpretation of the CFAA would chill critically important online discrimination testing, which frequently requires re...
Harlan Yu June 16, 2020

DC Council Testimony on the Police Budget and Surveillance Technologies

Consistent with the calls to defund the police by Black-led DC-based organizers, we testified that the District needs a new approach to public safety, including a significant reduction in taxpayer spending on police surveillance technologies.

Policing
all policing all written-testimony Harlan Yu 2020-06-16 00:00:00 +0000 Consistent with the calls to defund the police by Black-led DC-based organizers, we testified that the District needs a new approach to public safety, including a significant reduction in taxpayer spending on police surveillance technologies. Written Testimony of Harlan Yu, Executive Director, Upturn Council of the District of Columbia, Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety Budget Oversight Hearing on the Metropolitan Police Department FY 2021 June 16, 2020 Chairperson Allen, and member...
Logan Koepke April 03, 2020

Why PATTERN shouldn't determine "priority release" during COVID

We called on the Attorney General to rescind guidance which said that only individuals assessed as minimum risk by PATTERN should receive “priority treatment” for release during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Criminal Courts
all criminal-courts all letter Logan Koepke 2020-04-03 00:00:00 +0000 Along with more than 150 organizations, we called on the Attorney General to rescind guidance which said that only individuals assessed as minimum risk by PATTERN — a risk assessment tool built as a result of the First Step Act — should receive “priority treatment” for release during the COVID-19 pandemic. RE: The use of the PATTERN risk assessment in prioritizing release in response to the COVID-19 pandemic Dear Attorney General Barr: On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and ...
Logan Koepke January 30, 2020

Amicus brief on risk assessment instruments in Pennsylvania

We filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, arguing that the Court should not order the implementation of a pretrial risk assessment instrument as a bail reform measure in Philadelphia.

Criminal Courts
all criminal-courts all amicus-brief Logan Koepke 2020-01-30 00:00:00 +0000 In Philadelphia Community Bail Fund v. Arraignment Court Magistrates of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, we filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania arguing that the Court should not order the implementation of a pretrial risk assessment instrument as a bail reform measure in Philadelphia. We describe the academic, technical, legal, and policy research that counsels against adopting such a tool. Pretrial risk assessment instruments are inherently flawed becaus...
Aaron Rieke, Miranda Bogen, and Shazeda Ahmed December 12, 2019

Awareness in Practice

In a paper presented at the 2020 Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning, we describe how and when private companies collect or infer sensitive attribute data, such as a person’s race or ethnicity, for antidiscrimination purposes.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all report Aaron Rieke, Miranda Bogen, and Shazeda Ahmed 2019-12-12 00:00:00 +0000 In a paper presented at the 2020 Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning, we describe how and when private companies collect or infer sensitive attribute data, such as a person’s race or ethnicity, for antidiscrimination purposes. This paper uses the domains of employment, credit, and healthcare in the United States to surface conditions that have shaped the availability of sensitive attribute data. For each domain, we describe how and when private compan...
Logan Koepke, Emma Weil, Harlan Yu, and Urmila Janardan December 23, 2019

Upturn, Inc. v. New York City Police Department

We are suing the NYPD for records concerning the department’s use of mobile device forensic technology. Upturn is represented on a pro-bono basis by Shearman & Sterling, LLP and the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.).

Policing
all policing all lawsuit Logan Koepke, Emma Weil, Harlan Yu, and Urmila Janardan 2019-12-23 00:00:00 +0000 We are suing the NYPD for records concerning the department’s use of mobile device forensic technology. We sought these records as part of our investigation into the tools that police departments across the US use to search cellphones. The NYPD denied our request for records of using these tools. Upturn is represented on a pro-bono basis by Shearman & Sterling, LLP and the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.).
Aaron Rieke, Logan Koepke, and Miranda Bogen November 16, 2018

Section 230 should not fully immunize Facebook’s Ad Platform from the Fair Housing Act

We filed a legal brief in *Onuoha v. Facebook* about Section 230 and Facebook's Ad Platform.

Housing
all housing all amicus-brief Aaron Rieke, Logan Koepke, and Miranda Bogen 2018-11-16 00:00:00 +0000 We filed a legal brief in Onuoha v. Facebook arguing that Section 230 should not fully immunize Facebook’s Ad Platform from the Fair Housing Act. We describe how Facebook itself, independently of its advertisers, participates in the targeting and delivery of housing advertisements based on protected status: by creating "Lookalike Audiences" for housing advertisers based on its users’ protected class status, Facebook develops content that materially contributes to violations of the Fair Housin...
Harlan Yu and Logan Koepke June 19, 2019

In Support of Public Access to Legal Decisions Regarding Government Surveillance

Together with computer security experts, we filed an amicus brief in support of the unsealing of a judicial opinion regarding the federal government’s attempt to wiretap Facebook Messenger voice calls, which are end-to-end encrypted.

Policing
all policing all amicus-brief Harlan Yu and Logan Koepke 2019-06-19 00:00:00 +0000 Together with computer security experts, we filed an amicus brief in support of the unsealing of a judicial opinion regarding the federal government’s attempt to wiretap Facebook Messenger voice calls, which are end-to-end encrypted. Individuals cannot know, or obey, laws they cannot read. When a court decides a case, it applies and explains the law—and that precedent is used by and against individuals in subsequent cases. It is also used to decide how to structure one’s personal and business...
Logan Koepke and David Robinson December 12, 2019

Civil Rights and Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments

We co-led the Pretrial Risk Management Project of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; as part of this project, we published a critical issue brief on pretrial risk assessment instruments and civil rights concerns.

Criminal Courts
all criminal-courts all report Logan Koepke and David Robinson 2019-12-12 00:00:00 +0000 We co-led the Pretrial Risk Management Project of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. As part of this project, we published a critical issue brief on pretrial risk assessment, which focused on two questions. First: Why do many in the civil rights community oppose the use of pretrial risk assessment instruments? Second: What concrete reform strategies are available that would avoid risk assessment instruments, or would sharply limit their role? At the very moment jurisdictions...
Logan Koepke and David Robinson February 19, 2018

Danger Ahead

Bail reform is rapidly underway. But at the same moment that jurisdictions work to reduce the true risks of pretrial release through reform policies, jurisdictions across the country are also adopting statistical tools that will blindly predict such risks remain as high as ever.

Criminal Courts
all criminal-courts all article Logan Koepke and David Robinson 2018-02-19 00:00:00 +0000 In the last five years, legislators in all fifty states have made changes to their pretrial justice systems. Reform efforts aim to shrink jails by incarcerating fewer people— particularly poor, low-risk defendants and racial minorities. Many jurisdictions are embracing pretrial risk assessment instruments—statistical tools that use historical data to forecast which defendants can safely be released—as a centerpiece of reform. Now, many are questioning the extent to which pretrial risk assessm...
Logan Koepke December 14, 2018

Comments to California Judicial Council on S.B. 10 and Pretrial Risk Information

We filed comments with the Judicial Council of California on two of its proposed new court rules. We argued that the proposed rules on how courts use pretrial risk assessment tools need significant modifications in order to be constitutionally defensible and to protect civil rights.

Criminal Courts
all criminal-courts all comments Logan Koepke 2018-12-14 00:00:00 +0000 We filed comments with the Judicial Council of California on two of its proposed new court rules on the use of pretrial risk assessment instruments. We argued that the proposed rules on how courts use pretrial risk assessment tools need significant modifications in order to be constitutionally defensible and to protect civil rights. Re: Proposed California Rules of Court 4.10 and 4.40 On behalf of Upturn, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, The Leadership Conference Educat...
Miranda Bogen May 06, 2019

All the Ways Hiring Algorithms Can Introduce Bias

In the Harvard Business Review, Miranda explains what we mean when we talk about “hiring algorithms” and why predictive hiring technology is far more likely to erode equity than it is to promote it.

Jobs and Hiring
all jobs-and-hiring all article Miranda Bogen 2019-05-06 00:00:00 +0000 In Harvard Business Review, Miranda explains what we mean when we talk about “hiring algorithms” and why predictive hiring technology is far more likely to erode equity than it is to promote it. Understanding bias in hiring algorithms and ways to mitigate it requires us to explore how predictive technologies work at each step of the hiring process. Though they commonly share a backbone of machine learning, tools used earlier in the process can be fundamentally different than those used later ...
Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, and Urmila Janardan February 03, 2020

The Future of Work

We urged the Subcommittee to ensure that hiring technologies are developed and used in ways that respect people’s civil rights, and offered recommendations concerning transparency and oversight.

Jobs and Hiring
all jobs-and-hiring all letter Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, and Urmila Janardan 2020-02-03 00:00:00 +0000 Together with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we urged the House Education and Labor Committee's Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee to ensure that hiring technologies are developed and used in ways that respect people’s civil rights, and offered recommendations concerning transparency and oversight. RE: Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee Hearing on The Future of Work: Protecting Workers’ Civil Rights in the Digital Age Dear Chairwoman Bonamici and...
Aaron Rieke October 19, 2014

Knowing the Score

A “missing manual” for policy professionals seeking to better understand technology’s impact on financial underwriting and marketing.

Credit and Finance
all credit-and-finance all report Aaron Rieke 2014-10-19 00:00:00 +0000 This report describes two important ways that new data and technologies are changing the American consumer credit marketplace. First, new kinds of data are flowing into the computerized decisionmaking systems that determine who gets access to credit, and on what terms. This “alternative data” has the greatest impact on financially underserved consumers, whose creditworthiness is not well described in traditional credit reports. Credit bureaus have begun to receive certain kinds of mainstream ...
Aaron Rieke and Logan Koepke October 01, 2015

Led Astray

We explain how online lead generation works, describe the risks and legal complexities specific to lead generation for online payday loans, document the widespread use of search ads by payday lead generators, and recommend interventions.

Credit and Finance
all credit-and-finance all report Aaron Rieke and Logan Koepke 2015-10-01 00:00:00 +0000 Online commerce, once a luxury, is now central to people’s lives. The Internet is more than just a convenient place to shop for electronics or to book a vacation. Increasingly, it’s also where people go to find a loan, evaluate college degree programs, and seek financial advice. In order to ensure that vulnerable consumers are appropriately protected, consumer and civil rights advocates, regulators, journalists, and others need to understand the realities of new online marketplaces. Lead gene...
Aaron Rieke May 13, 2016

Google was right to get tough on payday loan ads

After Google’s announcement that it will ban ads for payday loans, Aaron explains why this was a good call.

Credit and Finance
all credit-and-finance all article Aaron Rieke 2016-05-13 00:00:00 +0000 Google announced Wednesday that it will soon ban ads for payday loans. For more on this shift, see one of these many excellent news stories. My colleagues and I at Upturn are part of a diverse coalition of advocates that worked with Google on this new policy. Upturn published a report last fall, Led Astray, that explained the inner workings of payday loan marketing, and helped spark the conversation that led to this week’s change. As you might expect, I think Google made a great call. Here’s ...
Aaron Rieke August 11, 2016

Don’t let the hype over “social media scores” distract you

How much of the public concern and reporting about “social media scores” has come untethered from reality.

Credit and Finance
all credit-and-finance all article Aaron Rieke 2016-08-11 00:00:00 +0000 “Creepy startup will help landlords, employers and online dates strip-mine intimate data from your Facebook page.” I saw the headline and cringed. But not because I was worried about snooping landlords. That story, in the Washington Post, featured a startup bragging that it could turn social media profiles into reports for landlords. The reports would rank applicants’ personality traits and financial stress levels, and would even note if they mentioned a pregnancy. “If you’re living a normal ...
Upturn, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Americans for Financial Reform May 19, 2017

Comments to the CFPB on Alternative Credit Data

We explore the risks and benefits of new types of credit data for historically disadvantaged groups.

Credit and Finance
all credit-and-finance all comments Upturn, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Americans for Financial Reform 2017-05-19 00:00:00 +0000 With The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Americans for Financial Reform, we explore the risks and benefits of new types of credit data for historically disadvantaged groups. The comments spotlight data that is most predictive of likelihood and ability to repay, and least likely to raise fair lending concerns.
Aaron Rieke July 25, 2019

Examining the Use of Alternative Data in Underwriting and Credit Scoring to Expand Access to Credit

Aaron testified that some types of nontraditional data can help underserved consumers access credit.

Credit and Finance
all credit-and-finance all written-testimony Aaron Rieke 2019-07-25 00:00:00 +0000 Before the House Committee on Financial Services’s Task Force on Financial Technology, Aaron testified that some types of nontraditional data can help underserved consumers access credit.
Emma Weil May 04, 2020

Auto Controllers

In Logic Magazine, Emma writes about starter interrupt devices, the small networked devices that are killing car engines and ruining people’s lives.

Credit and Finance
all credit-and-finance all article Emma Weil 2020-05-04 00:00:00 +0000 This piece originally appears in Logic's issue 10, "Security". T. Candice Smith was driving to work in the express lane of a Las Vegas freeway in 2012 when her car suddenly malfunctioned. Her steering wheel froze and the car shut off. When it rolled to a stop, she and her friend got out and pushed the car to the shoulder. Once she was out of the way of traffic, she noticed a chirping sound coming from inside her dashboard. It was coming from a machine installed by her auto lender: a “starter ...
Aaron Rieke, Logan Koepke, and Urmila Janardan October 18, 2019

Comments to the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Disparate Impact

We argued that HUD’s proposed changes to its disparate impact rule would undermine crucial housing protections for vulnerable communities by reducing plaintiffs’ ability to address discriminatory effects from the use of algorithmic models.

Housing
all housing all comments Aaron Rieke, Logan Koepke, and Urmila Janardan 2019-10-18 00:00:00 +0000 We argued that HUD’s proposed changes to its disparate impact rule would undermine crucial housing protections for vulnerable communities by reducing plaintiffs’ ability to address discriminatory effects arising from the use of algorithmic models. Re: Reconsideration of HUD's Implementation of the Fair Housing Act's Disparate Impact Standard, Docket No. FR-6111-P-02 Upturn writes to provide comments in response to the above-docketed notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) concerning propos...
Natasha Duarte and Tinuola Dada May 20, 2021

DC Council Testimony on the Eviction Record Sealing Authority Amendment Act of 2021

Upturn submitted this testimony supporting the passage of eviction sealing legislation in the District of Columbia and urging the DC Council to amend the bill to require all evictions to be automatically sealed at the point of filing.

Housing
all housing all written-testimony Natasha Duarte and Tinuola Dada 2021-05-20 00:00:00 +0000 Upturn submitted this testimony supporting the passage of eviction sealing legislation in the District of Columbia and urging the DC Council to amend the bill to require all evictions to be automatically sealed at the point of filing. Eviction records are artifacts of discrimination and should not be used to determine access to housing. In this testimony, we described how sealing is the best way to prevent tenant screening companies from circulating obsolete or misleading eviction records. W...
Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, and Logan Koepke March 12, 2021

Why Facebook's Ad Platform shouldn't be fully immunized by Section 230

We filed a legal brief arguing that Section 230 should not fully immunize Facebook’s Ad Platform from liability under a California antidiscrimination law.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all amicus-brief Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, and Logan Koepke 2021-03-12 00:00:00 +0000 We filed a legal brief in Liapes v. Facebook arguing that Section 230 should not fully immunize Facebook’s Ad Platform from liability under a California antidiscrimination law. We describe how Facebook itself, independently of its advertisers, participates in the targeting and delivery of insurance ads based on gender and age.
Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, and Logan Koepke June 26, 2020

Amicus brief on discrimination and Facebook's Ad Platform

We filed a legal brief arguing that Section 230 should not fully immunize Facebook’s Ad Platform from liability under California and D.C. law prohibiting discrimination. We describe how Facebook itself, independently of its advertisers, participates in the targeting and delivery of financial services ads based on gender and age.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all amicus-brief Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, and Logan Koepke 2020-06-26 00:00:00 +0000 We filed a legal brief in Opiotennione v. Facebook arguing that Section 230 should not fully immunize Facebook’s Ad Platform from liability under California and D.C. law prohibiting discrimination. We describe how Facebook itself, independently of its advertisers, participates in the targeting and delivery of financial services ads based on gender and age.
Aaron Rieke, Piotr Sapiezynski, Avijit Ghosh, Levi Kaplan, and Alan Mislove December 13, 2019

Algorithms that "Don't See Color"

Our empirical research showed that Facebook’s “Special Audiences” ad targeting tool can reflect demographic biases. We provide experimental proof that removing demographic features from a real-world algorithmic system’s inputs can fail to prevent biased outputs.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all report Aaron Rieke, Piotr Sapiezynski, Avijit Ghosh, Levi Kaplan, and Alan Mislove 2019-12-13 00:00:00 +0000 Today, algorithmic models are shaping important decisions in domains such as credit, employment, or criminal justice. At the same time, these algorithms have been shown to have discriminatory effects. Some organizations have tried to mitigate these effects by removing demographic features from an algorithm's inputs. If an algorithm is not provided with a feature, one might think, then its outputs should not discriminate with respect to that feature. This may not be true, however, when there a...
Aaron Rieke, Muhammad Ali, Piotr Sapiezynski, Aleksandra Korolova, and Alan Mislove December 09, 2019

Ad Delivery Algorithms

Our empirical research showed that Facebook’s ad delivery algorithms effectively differentiate the price of reaching a user based on their inferred political alignment with the advertised content, inhibiting political campaigns’ ability to reach voters with diverse political views.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all report Aaron Rieke, Muhammad Ali, Piotr Sapiezynski, Aleksandra Korolova, and Alan Mislove 2019-12-09 00:00:00 +0000 Political campaigns are increasingly turning to digital advertising to reach voters. These platforms empower advertisers to target messages to platform users with great precision, including through inferences about those users' political affiliations. However, prior work has shown that platforms' ad delivery algorithms can selectively deliver ads within these target audiences in ways that can lead to demographic skews along race and gender lines, often without an advertiser's knowledge. In th...
Aaron Rieke and Corrine Yu April 15, 2019

Discrimination's Digital Frontier

In The Atlantic, we argue that digital platforms — which deliver exponentially more ads than their newsprint predecessors — are making core civil-rights laws increasingly challenging to enforce.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all article Aaron Rieke and Corrine Yu 2019-04-15 00:00:00 +0000 In The Atlantic, we argue that digital platforms — which deliver exponentially more ads than their newsprint predecessors — are making core civil-rights laws increasingly challenging to enforce. Corrine and Aaron write: "Facebook must redouble its efforts to address all facets of potential discrimination in its ad system. As a part of that, the company should provide the public with far more detail about how its advertising system works, especially more information about the ads it runs, incl...
Aaron Rieke, Miranda Bogen, Muhammad Ali, Piotr Sapiezynski, Aleksandra Korolova, and Alan Mislove April 03, 2019

Discrimination Through Optimization

Our empirical research showed that Facebook itself can skew the delivery of job and housing ads along race and gender lines, even when advertisers target broad audiences.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all report Aaron Rieke, Miranda Bogen, Muhammad Ali, Piotr Sapiezynski, Aleksandra Korolova, and Alan Mislove 2019-04-03 00:00:00 +0000 The enormous financial success of online advertising platforms is partially due to the precise targeting features they offer. Although researchers and journalists have found many ways that advertisers can target — or exclude — particular groups of users seeing their ads, comparatively little attention has been paid to the implications of the platform's ad delivery process, comprised of the platform's choices about which users see which ads. It has been hypothesized that this process can "skew...
Miranda Bogen, Aaron Rieke, and Hannah Masuga August 20, 2018

How algorithmic decision tools impact consumer welfare

We offered comments to the Federal Trade Commission on the implications of algorithmic decision tools used in consumer advertising and marketing campaigns.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all comments Miranda Bogen, Aaron Rieke, and Hannah Masuga 2018-08-20 00:00:00 +0000 We offered comments to the Federal Trade Commission on the implications of algorithmic decision tools used in consumer advertising and marketing campaigns. We made several recommendations to the FTC: Lack of visibility into online advertising practices and technologies is an impediment to effective consumer protection. The FTC should encourage digital ad platforms to open all ads and targeting criteria to public scrutiny.Advertising algorithms can play a meaningful role in discriminatory adv...
Aaron Rieke, David Robinson, and Miranda Bogen February 28, 2018

Public Scrutiny of Automated Decisions

Automated decisions are increasingly part of everyday life, but how can the public scrutinize, understand, and govern them? This Upturn and Omidyar Network report maps out the landscape, providing practical examples and a framework to think about what has worked.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all report Aaron Rieke, David Robinson, and Miranda Bogen 2018-02-28 00:00:00 +0000 Automated decisions are increasingly part of everyday life, but how can the public scrutinize, understand, and govern them? This report from Upturn and the Omidyar Network maps out the landscape, providing practical examples and a framework to think about what has worked. Our key findings in this report are: Today’s automated decisions are socio-technical in nature: They emerge from a mix of human judgment, conventional software, and statistical models. The non-technical properties of these s...
Aaron Rieke December 03, 2016

Facebook, race, and ads

Facebook can and should do more to protect its users from discrimination — especially in civil rights areas like housing, credit, and employment.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all article Aaron Rieke 2016-12-03 00:00:00 +0000 Facebook made headlines again last week for allowing advertisers to target its users by “ethnic affinity” — a data-driven guess about their racial and cultural interests. Facebook doesn’t ask its users about race, but the company does assess their “likes” and and other behaviors. “Let’s say you are a fan of BET and have shown an interest in #BlackLivesMatter — well, then, you might be categorized as part of an African-American ethnic affinity,” explained Annalee Newitz on Ars Technica. These ...
Aaron Rieke, David Robinson, and Harlan Yu September 01, 2014

Civil Rights, Big Data, and Our Algorithmic Future

How and where, exactly, does big data become a civil rights issue? This report begins to answer that question, highlighting key instances where big data and civil rights intersect.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all report Aaron Rieke, David Robinson, and Harlan Yu 2014-09-01 00:00:00 +0000 The key decisions that shape people’s lives—decisions about jobs, healthcare, housing, education, criminal justice and other key areas—are, more and more often, being made automatically by computers. As a result, a growing number of important conversations about civil rights, which focus on how these decisions are made, are also becoming discussions about how computer systems work. Earlier this year, a path-breaking coalition of major civil rights and media justice organizations released the ...
Upturn, Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights April 26, 2018

Letter to Axon's AI Ethics Board on Face Recognition and Body-Worn Cameras

We wrote a letter to Axon’s AI Ethics Board to express serious concerns about the direction of Axon’s product development, including the possible integration of real-time face recognition with body-worn camera systems.

Policing
all policing all letter Upturn, Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights 2018-04-26 00:00:00 +0000 Together with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, we wrote a letter to Axon’s AI Ethics Board to express serious concerns about the direction of Axon’s product development, including the possible integration of real-time face recognition with body-worn camera systems. We were joined on this letter by 41 other civil rights, racial justice, and community organizations. Dear Axon AI Ethics Board: We write to express our...
Miranda Bogen and Harlan Yu October 12, 2017

Body cameras are only as effective as the policies that govern them

After St. Louis chose to accept a year of free body-worn cameras from Axon, we argued that the city’s police department needed to significantly strengthen civil rights protections in its BWC policies — particularly around when officers can review footage.

Policing
all policing all article Miranda Bogen and Harlan Yu 2017-10-12 00:00:00 +0000 After St. Louis chose to accept a year of free body-worn cameras from Axon, we argued in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the city’s police department needed to significantly strengthen civil rights protections in its BWC policies — particularly around when officers can review footage.
Aaron Rieke October 30, 2015

Follow the Lead: An FTC Workshop on Lead Generation

Before the FTC, Aaron describes harm arising from online payday lead generation practices, and explains how many lead generators evade state laws.

Credit and Finance
all credit-and-finance all written-testimony Aaron Rieke 2015-10-30 00:00:00 +0000 Before the Federal Trade Commission, Aaron describes harm arising from online payday lead generation practices, and explains how many lead generators evade state laws.
Upturn and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights December 04, 2017

The Illusion of Accuracy

Today, most major police departments that use body-worn cameras allow officers unrestricted footage review. This report explains why police departments must carefully limit officers’ review of body-worn camera footage, and calls for “clean reporting” to be adopted by all police departments.

Policing
all policing all report Upturn and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights 2017-12-04 00:00:00 +0000 This report explains why police departments must carefully limit officers’ review of body-worn camera footage. Policies that permit unrestricted review of footage reduce the accuracy of officer reports, and undermine the independent evidentiary and investigative value of police reports. Many departments recognize that body-worn cameras will capture details that are different than what officers remember experiencing. Decades of psychology research has shown that watching video replays can easi...
Upturn, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, MediaJustice, and Color Of Change April 21, 2017

The NYPD's Body-Cam Guidelines Need Fixing

Upturn files an objection to the NYPD’s proposed body-worn camera policy, together with the Leadership Conference, the Center for Media Justice, Color Of Change, and other groups.

Policing
all policing all article Upturn, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, MediaJustice, and Color Of Change 2017-04-21 00:00:00 +0000 We filed an objection to the NYPD’s proposed body-worn camera policy, together with the Leadership Conference, the Center for Media Justice, Color Of Change, and other civil rights and civil liberties organizations. We stated our deep concerns about the NYPD's updated Body-Worn Cameras Operations Order, and we provided guidance for the NYPD to amend the order in line with national best practices and critical civil rights protections.
Harlan Yu March 13, 2017

Philadelphia City Council Testimony on the Ongoing Implementation of Body-Worn Cameras

Harlan testifies at a hearing held by the Philadelphia City Council Committee on Public Safety on the Philadelphia Police Department’s current body-worn camera policy, which is not meeting national best practices.

Policing
all policing all written-testimony Harlan Yu 2017-03-13 00:00:00 +0000 Harlan testified at a hearing held by the Philadelphia City Council Committee on Public Safety on the Philadelphia Police Department’s current body-worn camera policy, which is not meeting national best practices. Written Testimony of Harlan Yu, Principal, Upturn Philadelphia City Council Committee on Public Safety Hearing on the Ongoing Implementation of Body-Worn Cameras by the Philadelphia Police Department Resolution No. 161113 March 13, 2017 Chairman Jones, Vice Chairman Johnson, an...
Brianna Posadas June 22, 2017

How strategic is Chicago's Strategic Subjects List?

Newly released data shows that almost 400,000 people are on Chicago’s “heat list.” Of that group, almost 290,000 have scores that the CPD says will lead to more scrutiny. Our analysis also shows that the most important factor in a person’s score was their age.

Policing
all policing all article Brianna Posadas 2017-06-22 00:00:00 +0000 For the past four years, the Chicago Police Department has been working with researchers to build a system for judging which city residents are most likely to be involved in a shooting — either pulling the trigger, or getting shot. The resulting “heat list” — officially called the Strategic Subjects List (SSL) — has, for the most part, been shrouded in secrecy and speculation. What we’ve known is that everyone on the list gets a risk score, reflecting their predicted likelihood of being invol...
Harlan Yu and Malkia Cyril December 20, 2017

The Benefits of Police Body Cams are a Myth

Harlan and Malkia Cyril of the Center for Media Justice take a hard look at the impact of police body-worn cameras. “The sad reality is that these cameras mirror the power and the interests of the police, not those of the communities they are sworn to serve,” they write.

Policing
all policing all article Harlan Yu and Malkia Cyril 2017-12-20 00:00:00 +0000 Harlan and Malkia Cyril of the Center for Media Justice take a hard look at the impact of police body-worn cameras in this article for TechCrunch. They write: “Body-worn cameras — like all technologies — reflect the values of the people that build and control them. The sad reality is that these cameras mirror the power and the interests of the police, not those of the communities they are sworn to serve. Without deeper structural reforms together with real community oversight, we shouldn’t ex...
Harlan Yu April 06, 2017

America Pays for Free Body Cameras With Its Civil Rights

Over at Motherboard, Harlan explains why Axon’s offer of free body-worn cameras for every cop in America is dangerous. It creates a perverse incentive for departments to rush to adopt camera systems without thinking through the hard policy challenges.

Policing
all policing all article Harlan Yu 2017-04-06 00:00:00 +0000 On Motherboard, Harlan explains why Axon’s offer of free body-worn cameras for every cop in America is dangerous. It creates a perverse incentive for departments to rush to adopt camera systems without thinking through the hard policy challenges.
Harlan Yu and Miranda Bogen April 21, 2017

Objecting to the NYPD’s Body Worn Cameras Operations Order

Upturn files an objection to the NYPD’s proposed body-worn camera policy, together with the Leadership Conference, the Center for Media Justice, Color Of Change, and other groups.

Policing
all policing all amicus-brief Harlan Yu and Miranda Bogen 2017-04-21 00:00:00 +0000 In Floyd v. City of New York, Upturn files an objection to the NYPD’s proposed body-worn camera policy, together with the Leadership Conference, the Center for Media Justice, Color Of Change, and other groups. We argue that the Court should require the NYPD to amend its order to follow nationwide best practices, such as mandatory recording, writing reports prior to viewing footage, and creating a process for releasing footage to recorded individuals.
Upturn and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights December 14, 2017

Police Body Worn Cameras: A Policy Scorecard (2017)

Together with the Leadership Conference, Upturn releases the latest version of our scorecard that evaluates the police body-worn camera policies in 75 major U.S. cities. It continues to show a nationwide failure to protect the civil rights and privacy of surveilled communities.

Policing
all policing all report Upturn and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights 2017-12-14 00:00:00 +0000 In the wake of high-profile incidents in Ferguson, Staten Island, North Charleston, Baltimore, and elsewhere, law enforcement agencies across the country have rapidly adopted body-worn cameras for their officers. One of the main selling points for these cameras is their potential to provide transparency into some police interactions, and to help protect civil rights, especially in heavily policed communities of color. But accountability is not automatic. Whether these cameras make police more...
David Robinson and Logan Koepke August 31, 2016

Stuck in a Pattern

We find that at least 20 of the nation’s 50 largest police forces have used a predictive policing system, with at least an additional 11 actively exploring options to do so. Vendors shield the technology in secrecy, and informed public debate is rare. Early research findings suggest that these systems may not actually make people safer.

Policing
all policing all report David Robinson and Logan Koepke 2016-08-31 00:00:00 +0000 We find that at least 20 of the nation’s 50 largest police forces have used a predictive policing system, with at least an additional 11 actively exploring options to do so. Vendors shield the technology in secrecy, and informed public debate is rare. Early research findings suggest that these systems may not actually make people safer.
Harlan Yu April 08, 2016

The Promise and Peril of Body Cameras

At the inaugural Color of Surveillance conference at Georgetown Law, Harlan examines how the U.S. government has monitored African American communities from the colonial era to the present day. In his talk, Harlan discusses how police departments nationwide are using body-worn cameras to surveil communities of color.

Policing
all policing all article Harlan Yu 2016-04-08 00:00:00 +0000 At the inaugural Color of Surveillance conference at Georgetown Law, Harlan examines how the U.S. government has monitored African American communities from the colonial era to the present day. In his talk, Harlan discusses how police departments nationwide are using body-worn cameras to surveil communities of color.
David Robinson May 26, 2016

In 3 years, Chicago police have tripled their use of a secret, computerized “heat list.”

The list aims to predict who will be involved in future shootings. Its growing role in Chicago policing is a taste of what’s ahead.

Policing
all policing all article David Robinson 2016-05-26 00:00:00 +0000 In July of 2013, the Chicago Police Department began using new software to statistically comb through the city’s population. Based on each person’s past police encounters (and the past encounters of people connected to that person), the system initially flagged the top 400 or so people that it judged to have the greatest chance of shooting someone else or getting shot themselves. Journalists love this story: it seemed eerily similar to Minority Report, the science fiction film where police pu...
David Robinson August 31, 2016

“Predictive policing” is happening now — and police could learn a lesson from Minority Report.

Law enforcement’s blind faith in a tool that doesn’t always work — a tool that can easily finger the wrong person, with terrible results — provides the central tension for that blockbuster film, and a vital lesson for our present.

Policing
all policing all article David Robinson 2016-08-31 00:00:00 +0000 In the movie Minority Report, mutants in a vat look into the future, and tell Tom Cruise who is about to commit a crime, so he can arrest the offender before the crime happens. Spoiler alert: Those mutant fortune tellers turn out not to be infallible, but the cops treat them as though they were. Law enforcement’s blind faith in a tool that doesn’t always work — a tool that can easily finger the wrong person, with terrible results — provides the central tension for that blockbuster film. Real ...
Logan Koepke December 21, 2016

Predictive Policing Isn’t About the Future

In a piece published in Slate, Logan argues that popular analysis of predictive policing systems too often focuses on their predictions about the future, and less about the historical data upon which they rely.

Policing
all policing all article Logan Koepke 2016-12-21 00:00:00 +0000 In this piece for Slate, Logan argues that popular analysis of predictive policing systems too often focuses on their predictions about the future, and less about the historical data upon which they rely. Hopefully, in the coming decade vendors will construct more thoughtful feedback loops in their systems; look to incorporate other, less biased sources of data; conduct racial impact assessments by default; and focus less on enforcement-based metrics of success. But if the systems continue to...
Harlan Yu, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Data & Society December 27, 2015

Data & Civil Rights: A New Era of Policing and Justice

Upturn, Data & Society, and the Leadership Conference host a major conference that explores the intersection of technology and criminal justice for law enforcement officers, government agencies, technology companies, civil rights leaders, technologists, and researchers.

Policing
all policing all article Harlan Yu, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Data & Society 2015-12-27 00:00:00 +0000 Upturn, Data & Society, and the Leadership Conference host a major conference that explores the intersection of technology and criminal justice for law enforcement officers, government agencies, technology companies, civil rights leaders, technologists, and researchers.
Harlan Yu May 15, 2015

Civil Rights Principles on Body-Worn Cameras

Upturn coordinated the development of a shared set of civil rights principles for body-worn cameras. The principles were endorsed by a major coalition of 34 local and national organizations, including the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, National Urban League, Center for Media Justice, ACLU, and others.

Policing
all policing all Harlan Yu 2015-05-15 00:00:00 +0000 In 2015, we coordinated the development of this shared set of civil rights principles for body-worn cameras. The principles were endorsed by a major coalition of 34 local and national organizations, including the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, National Urban League, Center for Media Justice, ACLU, and others. Civil Rights Principles on Body Worn Cameras Mobile cameras operated by law enforcement may play a valuable role in the present and future of policing. Whether they’re worn by an...
Miranda Bogen March 01, 2018

What happens to body cam footage after fatal police shootings?

We looked at police shootings from 2017 to see whether video was released to the public, after how long, and under what circumstances — and found that too often, these videos stay hidden.

Policing
all policing all article Miranda Bogen 2018-03-01 00:00:00 +0000 According to the Washington Post, police officers shot and killed 987 people in the U.S. in 2017. The Post has tracked fatal police shootings since 2015, collecting more than a dozen details about each incident including the victim’s race, age, gender, whether the victim was armed, and whether the victim was fleeing from officers. The Post also tracks whether or not “[n]ews reports have indicated an officer was wearing a body camera and it may have recorded some portion of the incident.” The ...
Aaron Rieke and Miranda Bogen May 09, 2018

Leveling the Platform

In the first rigorous, independent evaluation of Facebook’s new ad transparency plans, we urge the company to improve its ad transparency tools to enable meaningful public scrutiny.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all report Aaron Rieke and Miranda Bogen 2018-05-09 00:00:00 +0000 Executive Summary Facebook runs the world’s largest social network. The company makes money by selling the opportunity to reach its users. Facebook delivers targeted, prioritized messages — from those who can pay — to users who might not otherwise see them. These messages vary widely, and extend far beyond ads for consumer goods. Facebook recently announced new measures to keep advertisers on its platform accountable — including a promise to make all ads on its platform visible to anyone who ...
Aaron Rieke and Miranda Bogen December 10, 2018

Help Wanted

Without active measures to mitigate them, bias will arise in predictive hiring tools by default. This report describes popular tools that many employers currently use, explores how these tools affect equity throughout the entire hiring process, and offers reflections and recommendations on where we go from here.

Jobs and Hiring
all jobs-and-hiring all report Aaron Rieke and Miranda Bogen 2018-12-10 00:00:00 +0000 Executive Summary The hiring process is a critical gateway to economic opportunity, determining who can access consistent work to support themselves and their families. Employers have long used digital technology to manage their hiring decisions, and now many are turning to new predictive hiring tools to inform each step of their hiring process. This report explores how predictive tools affect equity throughout the entire hiring process. We explore popular tools that many employers currently ...
Aaron Rieke, Urmila Janardan, Mingwei Hsu, and Natasha Duarte July 06, 2021

Essential Work

In this report, we investigate how large hourly employers are using technology to hire for low-wage hourly jobs. We scrutinize 15 online application processes, raise concerns with selection procedures like personality tests, and offer recommendations for employers and policymakers.

Jobs and Hiring
all jobs-and-hiring all report Aaron Rieke, Urmila Janardan, Mingwei Hsu, and Natasha Duarte 2021-07-06 00:00:00 +0000 Executive Summary Most workers in the United States depend on hourly wages to support themselves and their families. To apply for these jobs, especially at the entry level, job seekers commonly fill out online applications. Online applications for hourly work can be daunting and inscrutable. Candidates — many of whom are young people, people of color, and people with disabilities — may end up filling out dozens of applications, while receiving no responses from employers. This report provides...
David Robinson and Miranda Bogen October 06, 2016

Data Ethics

This project maps the ways that data at scale may pose risks to philanthropic priorities and beneficiaries, identifies key questions that funders and grantees should consider before undertaking data-intensive work, and offers recommendations for funders to address emergent data ethics issues.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all David Robinson and Miranda Bogen 2016-10-06 00:00:00 +0000 Executive Summary “Data at scale” — digital information collected, stored and used in ways that are newly feasible — opens new avenues for philanthropic investment. At the same time, projects that leverage data at scale create new risks that are not addressed by existing regulatory, legal and best practice frameworks. Data-oriented projects funded by major foundations are a natural proving ground for the ethical principles and controls that should guide the ethical treatment of data in the so...
Aaron Rieke, David Robinson, and Harlan Yu March 01, 2016

What ISPs Can See

A technical assessment of the present and potential future monitoring capabilities available to internet service providers.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all report Aaron Rieke, David Robinson, and Harlan Yu 2016-03-01 00:00:00 +0000 Introduction In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassified broadband Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. This shift triggered a statutory mandate for the FCC to protect the privacy of broadband Internet subscribers’ information. The FCC is now considering how to craft new rules to clarify the privacy obligations of broadband providers. Last week, the Institute for Information Security & Privacy at Georgia Tech rele...
Harlan Yu, Aaron Rieke, and Natasha Duarte July 13, 2021

Proposals for the Biden Administration to Address Technology’s Role in Discrimination

We sent a letter urging the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy to fully incorporate the Biden administration’s commitment to racial equity into its AI and technology priorities.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all letter Harlan Yu, Aaron Rieke, and Natasha Duarte 2021-07-13 00:00:00 +0000 Upturn, ACLU, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and a coalition of other organizations sent a letter urging the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy to fully incorporate the Biden administration’s commitment to racial equity into its AI and technology priorities. Attached to the letter were three memos sent to federal agencies outlining concrete recommendations to address technology’s role in housing, hiring, and financial services discrimination. We sent this ...
Logan Koepke, Emma Weil, and Tinuola Dada July 13, 2021

Amicus Brief in United States v. Morton

In this brief, we explain how the Government’s remarkable technical assertions — that mobile device forensic tools can only extract all data off of a cellphone and cannot perform a narrower search — are incorrect.

Policing
all policing all amicus-brief Logan Koepke, Emma Weil, and Tinuola Dada 2021-07-13 00:00:00 +0000 We filed an amicus brief in United States v. Morton, a case in front of the en banc Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In the brief, we explain how the Government’s remarkable technical assertions — that mobile device forensic tools can only extract all data off of a cellphone and cannot perform a narrower search — are incorrect. We also explain how the Government’s legal position would effectively authorize indiscriminate, limitless searches of cellphones, in violation of the protection...
Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, Urmila Janardan, and Logan Koepke October 15, 2021

Amicus Brief in Henderson v. Source for Public Data

This amicus brief urges the Fourth Circuit to preserve critical and longstanding obligations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act that require consumer reporting agencies to ensure the accuracy of records used to make decisions about people’s access to housing, employment, credit, and other basic needs.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all amicus-brief Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, Urmila Janardan, and Logan Koepke 2021-10-15 00:00:00 +0000 This amicus brief urges the Fourth Circuit to preserve critical and longstanding obligations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that require consumer reporting agencies to ensure the accuracy of records used to make decisions about people’s access to housing, employment, credit, and other basic needs. We argue that Section 230 should not preempt these accuracy obligations, which do not treat consumer reporting agencies as the publishers or speakers of third-party content. This brief w...
Logan Koepke, Tinuola Dada, and Emma Weil April 07, 2021

Amicus Brief in Pennsylvania v. Green

We filed a legal brief in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania describing the capabilities of mobile device forensics tools (MDFTs) and how they facilitatate invasive searches of cellphones.

Policing
all policing all amicus-brief Logan Koepke, Tinuola Dada, and Emma Weil 2021-04-07 00:00:00 +0000 We filed a legal brief in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania describing the capabilities of mobile device forensics tools (MDFTs) and how they facilitatate invasive searches of cellphones. Search warrants, like the one in this case, often fail to limit the scope of a search at all. However, we argue that narrower searches are possible, and that courts must create new legal safeguards to avoid allowing general digital searches. We also advocate for audit logs in MDFT software, which would allow...
Harlan Yu, Aaron Rieke, and Natasha Duarte July 13, 2021

Urging the Biden Administration to Address Technology’s Role in Hiring Discrimination

We sent a memo on technology's role in hiring discrimination to agency leaders within the Biden administration.

Jobs and Hiring
all jobs-and-hiring all letter Harlan Yu, Aaron Rieke, and Natasha Duarte 2021-07-13 00:00:00 +0000 Upturn, ACLU, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and a coalition of other organizations urge the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy to fully incorporate the Biden administration’s commitment to racial equity into its AI and technology priorities. This is our memo on technology's role in hiring discrimination. We sent this memo to: Chair Charlotte A. Burrows, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)Secretary Marty J. Walsh, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)...
Harlan Yu, Aaron Rieke, and Natasha Duarte July 13, 2021

Urging the Biden Administration to Address Technology’s Role in Housing Discrimination

We sent a memo to agency leaders in the Biden administration on technology's role in housing discrimination.

Housing
all housing all letter Harlan Yu, Aaron Rieke, and Natasha Duarte 2021-07-13 00:00:00 +0000 Upturn, ACLU, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and a coalition of other organizations urge the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy to fully incorporate the Biden administration’s commitment to racial equity into its AI and technology priorities. This is our memo on technology's role in housing discrimination. We sent this memo to: Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)Acting Director Dave Uejio, Consumer Financial Pr...
Harlan Yu, Aaron Rieke, and Natasha Duarte July 13, 2021

Urging the Biden Administration to Address Technology’s Role in Financial Services Discrimination

We sent a memo on technology's role in financial services discrimination to agency leaders within the Biden administration.

Credit and Finance
all credit-and-finance all letter Harlan Yu, Aaron Rieke, and Natasha Duarte 2021-07-13 00:00:00 +0000 Upturn, ACLU, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and a coalition of other organizations urge the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy to fully incorporate the Biden administration’s commitment to racial equity into its AI and technology priorities. This is our memo on technology's role in financial services discrimination. We sent this memo to: Acting Director Dave Uejio, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)Chair Jerome H. Powell, Board of Governors of th...
Emma Weil and Aaron Rieke May 07, 2020

How an SSI eligibility system wrongfully terminated benefits

Upturn supported New York Legal Assistance Group in its settlement of a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration regarding its wrongful terminations of Supplement Security Income beneficiaries.

Public Benefits
all public-benefits all article Emma Weil and Aaron Rieke 2020-05-07 00:00:00 +0000 For many years, the Social Security Administration has been incorrectly assessing asset limits for Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries. When the first day of the month fell on a weekend or holiday, the system would deposit benefits early, but would then count the early deposit as part of the beneficiary's assets and terminate their benefits for being above the threshold, or even take the money back. This happened to thousands of beneficiaries, most of whom had a difficult time even rea...
Emily Paul and Harlan Yu January 15, 2022

Comments on OSTP's Biometrics Technologies RFI

We submitted comments in response to the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s request for information on public and private sector uses of biometric technologies.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all comments Emily Paul and Harlan Yu 2022-01-15 00:00:00 +0000 We submitted comments in response to the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s request for information on public and private sector uses of biometric technologies. The data-driven technologies (including biometric tech) used by powerful institutions to shape key decisions about people's lives often mirror and exacerbate historical racial and economic disparities in housing, employment, public benefits, the criminal legal system, and other areas of opportunity and wellbeing. Office of Sci...
Aaron Rieke and Natasha Duarte December 06, 2021

Amicus Brief in Muslim Advocates v. Zuckerberg et. al.

Together with other amici, we argue that Facebook is governed by the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act, even though it does not charge its users a cash price.

Across the Field
all across-the-field all amicus-brief Aaron Rieke and Natasha Duarte 2021-12-06 00:00:00 +0000 Together with other amici, we argue that Facebook is is governed by the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA), even though it does not charge its users a cash price.
Tinuola Dada February 17, 2022

Testimony on MDFTs at the 2022 MPD Oversight Hearing

Tinuola testified on MPD use of mobile device forensic tools and consent searches at the 2021-2022 Metropolitan Police Department Performance Oversight Hearing.

Policing
all policing all written-testimony Tinuola Dada 2022-02-17 00:00:00 +0000 The following written testimony was presented by Upturn Policy Analyst Tinuola Dada at the DC Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety's Public Hearing on 2021-2022 Metropolitan Police Department Performance Oversight. Tinuola testified on MPD's use of mobile device forensic tools and called for DC Council to — at a minimum — ban consent searches of cellphones in DC. Dear Chairman Allen and Members of the Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety, Thank you for the opportunity to ...
Logan Koepke, Emma Weil, and Tinuola Dada April 26, 2022

Amicus brief in Connecticut v. Smith

We filed an amicus brief in a case before the Connecticut State Supreme Court arguing that the Court should develop specific rules for the issuance and execution of cellphone search warrants.

Policing
all policing all amicus-brief Logan Koepke, Emma Weil, and Tinuola Dada 2022-04-26 00:00:00 +0000 We filed an amicus brief in Connecticut v. Smith, a case before the Connecticut State Supreme Court, arguing that the Court should develop specific rules for the issuance and execution of cellphone search warrants. Today, across the country, cellphone search warrants are so broadly and ambiguously worded as to be limitless. Mobile device forensic tools compound the problem: they facilitate an exhaustive and indiscriminate search of a cellphone by law enforcement. Given that this arrangement i...
Emily Paul and Emma Weil April 18, 2022

Comments on Medicaid administration technology

We submitted comments in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ request for information on Access to Care and Coverage for People Enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. These comments focus on the ways that the technology used to administer Medicaid — in particular, Medicaid Long-Term Services & Supports — can increase barriers to accessing care.

Public Benefits
all public-benefits all comments Emily Paul and Emma Weil 2022-04-18 00:00:00 +0000 We submitted comments in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ request for information on Access to Care and Coverage for People Enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. These comments focus on the ways that the technology used to administer Medicaid — in particular, Medicaid Long-Term Services & Supports — can increase barriers to accessing care. 1-1: What are the specific ways that CMS can support states in achieving timely eligibility determination and timely enro...
Urmila Janardan June 02, 2022

Comments on Seattle Police Department's use of MDFTs

We submitted comments to Seattle City Council on their Surveillance Ordinance implementation process, explaining the technical capabilities of MDFTs and urging the Council to restrict the ways that Seattle PD can use them.

Policing
all policing all comments Urmila Janardan 2022-06-02 00:00:00 +0000 We submitted comments to Seattle City Council on their Surveillance Ordinance implementation process, explaining the technical capabilities of MDFTs and urging the Council to restrict the ways that Seattle PD can use them. Our comments as submitted are below. RE: Upturn’s Comments on “Computer, cellphone and mobile device extraction tools” in Group 4b Surveillance Technologies On behalf of Upturn, I write to offer our comments on one technology included in Group 4b of the Seattl...
Tinuola Dada and Natasha Duarte July 07, 2022

How to Seal Eviction Records

We wrote an issue brief offering guidance and recommendations for advocates and policymakers who seek to draft or support eviction record sealing laws.

Housing
all housing all guide Tinuola Dada and Natasha Duarte 2022-07-07 00:00:00 +0000 Executive Summary Tenant screening is a major driver of housing insecurity. Tenant screening companies collect eviction, credit, and criminal records and repackage them into tenant screening reports that they sell to landlords. This business model has helped entrench eviction records, in particular, as a ubiquitous barrier to housing. Landlords — who often purchase tenant screening reports — regularly reject potential tenants who have any eviction history, regardless of the nature or disposit...