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Credit decisions

Discrimination through artificial intelligence banned

26 Apr 2018, 01:07 ( 26 Apr, 2018) | updated: 26 Apr 2018, 01:09 ( 26 Apr, 2018)

DF-Xinhua Report
DF File Photo.

The Finnish Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal has prohibited "discriminatory use" of artificial intelligence in decisions about financial credit, said the watchdog on Wednesday.

The tribunal had reviewed a case where credit had been denied on statistical grounds based on the applicant's gender, language, age and residential area. The financial institution had not asked the applicant to provide details of his financial situation.

In its decision published on Wednesday, the tribunal deemed that the financial institution had done "discriminating statistical profiling". It ordered the financial institution not to use statistical methods "in a discriminating way".

It did not, however, give a total ban on the use of artificial intelligence in decisions on credit. A fine of 100,000 euros on probation was levied on the credit institute cautioning against further acts of discrimination towards its customers.

The institution that received the ban has not been identified in the public documentation from the tribunal.

In its response, the credit institution noted that a review of the personal situation of the applicant would have increased the cost of the loan process. The company defended its system and said it was appropriate. It can file a complaint to an administrative court.

The tribunal claimed that the system puts people who speak other languages than Finnish and Swedish at a disadvantage.

The tribunal is an independent body appointed by the cabinet. It controls equality in both private and public sectors, except intra-family matters and religion. It can give bans, but cannot demand compensation.

Kirsi Pimiä, the Finnish equality ombudsman, had conducted talks with the financial institution to find a mutually acceptable solution. But as no common ground was found, the matter was taken to the tribunal that can issue bans.

The equality ombudsman will now meet other financial institutions to find out what kind of other problems can be encountered when artificial intelligence is used for credit decisions, said the tribunal.