European Consumer Consultative Group Opinion
May 16, 2018
“Machine-learning and automated decision-making in a consumer context
The increasing use of self-learning algorithms and machine-learning that steer processes and take decisions on behalf or instead of humans inevitably leads to a set of societal and ethical questions. From a consumer point of view, Algorithmic Decision Making (ADM), de facto automated decision-making, based on big data, is of particular interest and high importance as the number of affected consumers could potentially be high. As a matter of fact, the ranges for application of ADM in consumers’ everyday lives are virtually endless. Artificial intelligence is also no science-fiction of distant future times. Examples include algorithms used by online retailers to tailor prices to individual consumers based on estimates of their location and by self-driving cars to go around.
It is therefore essential that the European regulatory framework of consumer protection is able to meet the challenges posed not only by connected devices but also by automated decision-making. Can we still speak about consumer choice when preferences are defined, predicted, and shaped by algorithms? Consumer organisations call on the European Institutions to assess and revise relevant consumer protection legislation to ensure that consumers rights are respected by algorithms and automated decision making. An elaborated form of accountability and ethical processing is needed to foster the benefits of this use of data but to also address any consequent risks.”
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