WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) to secure and protect information handled by federal contractors using artificial intelligence (AI) technology, such as biometric data from facial recognition scans, has advanced in the Senate. The legislation was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Peters serves as Chair and Portman serves as Ranking Member. The bill would require the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish and consult with an Artificial Intelligence Hygiene Working Group to ensure that government contractors are securing and using data collected by AI technologies to protect national security and in a way that ensures the privacy and rights of all Americans.
“Artificial intelligence applications that can be used to strengthen our national security collect a considerable amount of sensitive data. It’s critical that we protect and secure this data to safeguard the rights and privacy of the American people,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan bill will ensure that federal contractors cannot misuse the information collected by these technologies and that artificial intelligence is used appropriately for the benefit of our nation.”
“The bipartisan GOOD AI Act helps strengthen the accountability and security of federal AI systems,” said Senator Portman. “It is important that the federal government ensure that its AI systems are trustworthy and safe.”
While there are clear benefits to using AI, experts remain concerned that if used improperly, this technology could harm Americans and compromise national security. Recent reports have shown that AI technology companies that contract with federal law enforcement agencies have misused data and information they have collected. In other instances, federal agencies have not taken the necessary steps to ensure contractors appropriately handle information collected by AI technologies such as facial recognition – leading to Americans’ information being compromised.
The Government Ownership and Oversight of Data in Artificial Intelligence (GOOD AI) Act requires the Director of the OMB to establish and consult with an Artificial Intelligence Hygiene Working Group made up of experts from across the federal government. The Working Group would be tasked with developing and implementing solutions that ensure government contracts for AI services require the data and systems to be secure, safeguard American’s civil rights and liberties, and make clear that the federal government is the ultimate owner of the collected information, so that it cannot be appropriated by contractors or publicly posted, sold, or misused by organizations in a way that compromises the privacy of Americans.
The legislation builds on Peters and Portman’s efforts to ensure AI is used safely and ethically. The senators’ bipartisan legislation to help federal employees responsible for purchasing these technologies better understand the risks and benefits they pose to the American people has passed out of committee. A Portman-Peters provision to ensure that the use of AI across the federal government is effective, ethical, and accountable by providing resources and guidance to federal agencies was signed into law as a part of last year’s government funding bill.