Bill Would Block Contractors from Selling Data Harvested with AI Tools to Third Parties


A bipartisan proposal would also clarify that the government ultimately owns the data collected by federal contractors and their artificial intelligence systems. 

A coalition of bipartisan senators on Thursday introduced new legislation that would regulate data harvested by federal contractors with artificial intelligence, with a focus on facial recognition data.

Titled the Government Ownership and Oversight of Data in Artificial Intelligence, or GOOD AI, Act, the bill would establish a new working group within the Office of Management and Budget to ensure government contractors that employ machine learning to gather biometric data use it responsibly. 

The proposed group—the Artificial Intelligence Hygiene Working Group—would develop and implement regulations to ensure government contractors for AI services are safely handling Americans’ data at a time when agencies increasingly turn to biometrics for various applications.

Other AI technologies are also included in the scope of the bill, namely machine-learning algorithms, data systems and software. 

“It is important that the federal government ensure that its AI systems are trustworthy and safe,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, one of the bill’s sponsors. “The bipartisan GOOD AI Act helps strengthen the accountability and security of federal AI systems and I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this common-sense legislation.”

The OMB director would be tasked with appointing members to serve on the working group.

The legislation also stipulates that the federal government is the ultimate owner of the data collected by federal contractors and their AI technology. Under this provision, the data in question cannot be sold to third parties or otherwise misused “in a way that compromises the privacy of Americans.”

“While artificial intelligence applications have the potential to strengthen our national security, we must ensure data collected by this technology is secure, used appropriately, and does not compromise the privacy and rights of Americans,” said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., the bill’s cosponsor. “This bipartisan bill will help ensure that federal contractors are using artificial intelligence properly and for the benefit of the country – and that the information collected through these technologies is not misused.”

Both Portman and Peters have previously spearheaded legislation to regulate AI within the federal government. 

In July, the senators introduced a bill to establish an AI training program among federal employees that was advanced by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in August. Portman is a ranking member on the committee.