Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
We are writing to submit the following request under the Freedom of Information Act.
On 29 October 2018, Forbes published an article entitled “How The UK Government Uses Artificial Intelligence To Identify Welfare And State Benefits Fraud.” The article states that:
“Artificial intelligence algorithms are also used [by the Department for Work and Pensions] to scour social media accounts to uncover inconsistencies in the stories people tell on social media and the claims they are making for benefits. Lavish holiday parties are a red flag if you’re claiming unemployment benefits. Going on a cross-country race is not congruent with someone who receives disability benefits. If you claim single status and you post pictures of your wedding or spouse, it’s suspicious to the AI algorithms.
The DWP tested the algorithms extensively and the algorithms can even scan across the benefit system including Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Personal Independent Systems making it even more robust.”
A link to the article is here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr...
In light of the article above, we specifically request copies of the following:
1) All privacy impact assessments, data protection impact assessments, data sharing agreements, or Memoranda of Understanding of or related to programmes or activities that involve the monitoring of social media accounts belonging to claimants of Universal Credit or legacy benefits (i.e. housing benefit, income-related employment and support allowance, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, child tax credit or working tax credit);
2) All training manuals or operational guidance materials provided to DWP staff for the programs or activities outlined in (1), including manuals or materials pertaining to the collection, use, analysis, retention and deletion of claimants’ social media information;
3) All contracts with commercial partners for the programmes or activities outlined in (1); and
4) All tender or procurement documents for the programmes or activities outlined in (1).
Per Section 10(1) of the Act, please respond no later than the twentieth working day following the date of receipt of this request.
If you refuse our request in whole or in part, or redact or withhold from disclosure specific items in your response, please explain the reason for the refusal of each withheld item with reference to exemptions of the Act, as per Section 17 of the Act.
Where you have relied on a qualified exemption to withhold disclosure, please explain which exemption applies and why the public interest arguments against disclosure outweigh the public interest in disclosure.
Thank you for your time and consideration, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.
Human Rights Watch
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I am writing in response to your request for information, received 24th
DWP Central FoI Team
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