Department of Homeland Security Advances AI Agenda with New Leadership and Guidelines
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is making significant strides in incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) technologies into its agency operations. With the appointment of new leadership and the introduction of fresh guidelines, DHS is committed to driving its AI-related agenda forward.
DHS recently announced the creation of the inaugural position of Chief AI Officer, with Eric Hysen, the agency’s chief information officer and Artificial Intelligence Task Force co-chair, taking on this role. Hysen will play a crucial role in promoting the responsible and effective use of AI while prioritizing safety protocols. He will also provide advice on AI policy and practice to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other agency leaders. It’s important for the department to stay up-to-date with the rapidly evolving technology in a transparent and respectful manner, ensuring the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of every individual they serve.
To further advance the adoption of AI technologies in DHS missions, the AI task force introduced two new policies:
1. Policy Statement 139-06: This policy establishes a set of defined principles that DHS should adhere to when utilizing AI in agency operations. These principles align with President Donald Trump’s December 2020 executive order on trustworthy AI in government operations. The policy emphasizes that DHS will not collect, use, or disseminate data used in AI activities that involve the inappropriate consideration of characteristics such as race, gender, or ethnicity. It specifically states that DHS will not use AI technology to improperly profile, target, discriminate against individuals or entities, or enable improper systemic surveillance or tracking of individuals.
2. Directive 026-11: This directive focuses on preventing the inappropriate usage of biometric systems, particularly facial recognition technology. While facial recognition technologies are authorized for specific DHS missions, the directive reinforces the importance of conducting regular testing to ensure these systems are not being misused or leveraged illegally. It is vital for DHS to employ facial recognition technology in a manner that upholds privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties, while strictly prohibiting unlawful surveillance or tracking of individuals.
The introduction of these policies and guidelines reflects the department’s commitment to responsible and ethical AI usage. The initiative has garnered support from various perspectives, with Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., commending Secretary Mayorkas for his leadership. Clarke emphasizes the importance of updating federal government procurement policies to incentivize the private sector towards the development and use of responsible and safe AI. This step is crucial considering the potential risks associated with biases, discrimination, and lack of explainability that have been observed in the use of AI technologies in the past. The federal government needs to keep pace with emerging technologies while safeguarding privacy and civil liberties enshrined within the Constitution.
The DHS AI agenda showcases the agency’s dedication to harnessing the power of AI effectively while ensuring accountability and protecting the rights of individuals. With the newly appointed Chief AI Officer, Eric Hysen, at the helm and the implementation of robust policies, DHS is well-positioned to navigate the evolving AI landscape responsibly and transparently.
Keywords: DHS, Department of Homeland Security, AI, artificial intelligence, leadership, guidelines, Chief AI Officer, Eric Hysen, policy, principle, facial recognition technology, biometric systems, responsible AI usage, privacy, civil rights, civil liberties