DWP’s use of A.I. under scrutiny

30 May 2024

Public Law and Judicial Review, Information Law

The First Tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) is to hear a Freedom of Information Act appeal against the DWP’s refusal to disclose information about its use of AI to detect fraud and error in the benefits system.

The appellant, Jake Hurfurt, a researcher at Big Brother Watch, requested disclosure under FOIA of any data protection impact assessments prepared by the DWP’s Integrated Risk and Intelligence Service (IRIS) relating to any use of profiling, machine learning or artificial intelligence.

The DWP refused that request although, following an internal review, decided that it could disclose redacted copies of the requested DPIAs. The remaining information it withheld under section 31(1)(a) of FOIA on the basis that disclosure would prejudice the prevention and detection of crime.

The appellant complained to the Information Commissioner who upheld the DWP’s refusal.

The appellant has now appealed to the FTT which is being heard today.

The appeal is understood to be one of the first times the use of AI by a major government department has been scrutinised under FOIA.

Matt Lewin, a member of Cornerstone Barristers’ Information Law team, is representing the Information Commissioner.

To instruct Matt or any other members of the Cornerstone Barristers team, please email our clerks.