Udbetaling Danmark automates social welfare decisions

While the US has witnessed many attempts to automate social benefits distribution, similar schemes have begun to gain popularity across Europe (Algorithm Watch 2019). Denmark has utilized algorithms for its social welfare initiative, Udbetaling Danmark. The body has wide access to data from diverse silos of information and makes decisions regarding everything from pensions to child allowances to unemployment support (ibid).

Birgitte Arent Eiriksson, a deputy director of the legal think tank Jusititia, examined Udbetaling Denmark and concluded that the body prioritizes “efficiency and surveillance” over natural rights and the rule of law (ibid). The individuals affected by this automated decision system should have access to information on the data being processed and the nature of the processing, especially given the weight that the system’s outcomes bear on their lives. Moreover, questions regarding discrimination should also be asked as the system could be disproportionately flagging people belonging to vulnerable categories of the population.