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  1. Home
  2. In Focus
  3. Artificial Intelligence at DHS
  4. Ensuring AI Is Used Responsibly

Ensuring AI Is Used Responsibly

DHS maintains a clear set of principles and robust governance that prioritizes the protection of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. The Department’s approach is the foundation for its work to ensure Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used responsibly across its unique missions.

Guiding Principles for AI Use at DHS 

Secretary Mayorkas established guiding principles for the responsible use of AI in Policy Statement 139-06: Acquisition and Use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning by DHS Components.

DHS's guiding principles for AI use require that in acquiring and using AI, the Department must:

  • Comply with all applicable laws, especially those protecting privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.
  • Follow the Principles for Trustworthy AI in Government.
  • Provide transparency on AI use at DHS through the DHS AI Use Case Inventory.
  • Ensure all AI use is mission-appropriate and improves mission-effectiveness.
  • Guard against bias in data collection, use, and dissemination at DHS.
  • Advance equity and fundamentally fair treatment and guard against impermissible discrimination by testing and validating AI use cases at DHS.
  • Prohibit improper systemic, indiscriminate, or large-scale monitoring, surveillance, or tracking of individuals with AI.
  • Manage risk through a DHS-wide risk management framework.
  • Protect AI technologies at DHS from cyber-attacks and malicious degradation of algorithmic functions.
  • Support the DHS workforce in understanding the strengths, weaknesses, benefits and risks of AI.
  • Ensure human oversight for the design, implementation, and end uses of AI at DHS.

Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties

The DHS Privacy Office and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) oversee DHS AI activities to ensure they safeguard privacy and individual rights and comply with Department privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties policies.

The Privacy Office works to safeguard personal privacy and enhance transparency. CRCL works to preserve individual liberties, fairness, and equality to ensure compliance with applicable non-discrimination standards and to advance equity across all DHS AI use cases.

Learn more about the DHS Privacy Office and DHS CRCL.

Governing Policy

Policy and other guidance is key to ensuring mission-appropriate, responsible, and rights-protecting use of AI at DHS. DHS policy outlines the Department’s commitment to lean forward in deploying AI tools to enhance operations and lead the government in the responsible and ethical use of AI.

Policy Statement 139-06 establishes the foundation for the responsible use of AI at DHS with a clear set of principles. DHS will only acquire and use AI in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution and all other applicable laws and policies. DHS will not collect, use, or disseminate data used in AI activities or establish AI-enabled systems that make or support decisions based on the inappropriate consideration of race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, nationality, medical condition, or disability.

Policy Statement 139-07 establishes guidelines for the use of GenAI tools by DHS employees. The policy provides specific requirements for safeguarding data and protecting privacy. It also lays out a process for obtaining approval to use GenAI tools that includes the completion of training on the responsible use of AI.

Directive 026-11 requires that all uses of face recognition and face capture technologies are thoroughly tested to ensure there is no unintended bias or disparate impact in accordance with national standards. DHS will review all existing uses of this technology and conduct periodic testing and evaluation of all systems to meet performance goals.

“The policies we are announcing today will ensure that the Department’s use of AI is free from discrimination and in full compliance with the law, ensuring that we retain the public's trust.”

- CIO and Chief AI Officer Eric Hysen

Collaborative Governance

DHS’s governance and oversight for the responsible use of AI is a closely coordinated, highly collaborative effort that unites the Department around the common goal of ensuring responsible use.

Responsible Use Group, led by the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, provides guidance, risk assessment, mitigation strategies, and oversight for the protection of individual rights in projects championed by the DHS AI Task Force.

The Group's goals include:

  • Establishing a working and appropriately evolving definition of responsible use of AI at DHS.
  • Engaging stakeholders, assessing risks, and prescribing tailored mitigation in each AITF-sponsored project.
  • Working to advance the equitable use of AI by DHS through policies implementing AI-related authorities and requirements.
  • Building a community of AI governance and common vocabulary around responsible use across DHS.
  • Strengthening the DHS AI workforce through trainings and other learning opportunities focused on responsible use, trustworthiness, accountability, and strong governance practices.
  • Capturing and using the Department’s experience, best practices, and lessons learned regarding responsible use of AI.

The AI Policy Working Group (AIPWG) coordinates with the DHS AI Task Force to affect policy change and apply oversight to all DHS AI activities. The AIPWG collaborates across the Department, including the Office of the Chief Information Officer, Science and Technology Directorate, Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the Privacy Office, and the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans.

Last Updated: 12/13/2023
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