Our Work

We drive policy outcomes and spark debate through reports, scholarly articles, regulatory comments, direct advocacy efforts together with coalition allies, articles and op-eds, and participation in events including public panels, conferences, and workshops. Here's a selection of our recent work.

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amicus brief by Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, and Logan Koepke | 12 March 2021
Amicus Brief in Liapes v. Facebook

We filed a legal brief 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.

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Written testimony by Natasha Duarte and Tinuola Dada | 30 October 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. 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.

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Written testimony by Natasha Duarte and Tinuola Dada | 27 October 2020
DC Council Testimony on Fair Tenant Screening Act

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.

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amicus brief by Emily Paul, Logan Koepke, Urmila Janardan, Aaron Rieke, and Natasha Duarte | 15 October 2020
Amicus Brief in New Jersey v. Pickett

Working with the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School, we filed a brief with the Superior Court of New Jersey 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 adversarial review and that the Court must fulfill its gatekeeping function and not allow the makers of TrueAllele to shield it from such a review.

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amicus brief by Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, Sarika Ram, and Logan Koepke | 07 July 2020
Amicus Brief in Van Buren v. United States of America

Alongside the ACLU, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, First Look Media, and several academics, we filed an amicus brief in 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 researchers to violate computer use policies.

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amicus brief by Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, and Logan Koepke | 26 June 2020
Amicus Brief in Opiotennione v. Facebook

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.

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Written testimony by Harlan Yu | 16 June 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.

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letter by Logan Koepke | 03 April 2020
Letter to the Attorney General on the use of the PATTERN risk assessment in prioritizing release in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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.

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letter with Aaron Rieke, Natasha Duarte, and Urmila Janardan | 03 February 2020
Letter to the House Education and Labor Committee's Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee on Hiring Technologies

Together with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, 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.

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amicus brief by Logan Koepke | 30 January 2020
Amicus Brief 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.

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lawsuit by Logan Koepke, Emma Weil, Harlan Yu, and Urmila Janardan | 23 December 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.)

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comments by Aaron Rieke, Logan Koepke, and Urmila Janardan | 18 October 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 arising from the use of algorithmic models.

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testimony by Aaron Rieke | 25 July 2019
Examining the Use of Alternative Data in Underwriting and Credit Scoring to Expand Access to Credit

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.

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amicus brief by Harlan Yu and Logan Koepke | 19 June 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.

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comments by Logan Koepke | 14 December 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.

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amicus brief by Aaron Rieke, Logan Koepke, and Miranda Bogen | 16 November 2018
Amicus Brief in Onuoha v Facebook

We filed a legal brief 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.

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comment by Miranda Bogen, Hannah Masuga, and Aaron Rieke | 20 August 2018
Comment to the FTC on the consumer welfare implications of algorithmic decision tools, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics

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

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letter by Harlan Yu | 26 April 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. We were joined on this letter by 41 other civil rights, racial justice, and community organizations.

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comment by Aaron Rieke | 19 May 2017
Comment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Alternative Credit Data

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.

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amicus letter with Harlan Yu and Miranda Bogen | 21 April 2017
Amicus Letter in Floyd Objecting to the Substance of 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.

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Written testimony by Harlan Yu | 13 March 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.

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Statement with Harlan Yu | 15 May 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.