DHS Implements Responsible AI Policies & Appoints First Chief AI Officer
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the implementation of new policies to ensure responsible use of artificial intelligence (AI) within the Department. These policies, developed by the DHS Artificial Intelligence Task Force (AITF), aim to manage the risks associated with AI while maximizing its benefits. As part of these policies, DHS will prioritize the responsible use of face recognition technology through extensive testing and oversight.
To further enhance its AI capabilities, DHS has appointed Eric Hysen as its first Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer. As the Chief AI Officer, Hysen will spearhead AI innovation and safety initiatives, while also advising Secretary Mayorkas and Department leadership on AI-related issues. Hysen will continue to serve as the Department’s Chief Information Officer.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas emphasized the importance of utilizing AI effectively and responsibly. He stated, Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool we must harness effectively and responsibly. Our Department must continue to keep pace with this rapidly evolving technology, and do so in a way that is transparent and respectful of the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of everyone we serve.
The newly introduced policies consist of two key factors. Firstly, Policy Statement 139-06, named Acquisition and Use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning by DHS Components, establishes a comprehensive set of principles that guide DHS’s use of AI. These principles ensure that all AI systems, programs, and activities within DHS adhere to the requirements set forth in Executive Order 13960, which promotes trustworthy AI use in the federal government. Additionally, the policy ensures that AI acquisition and usage align with constitutional and legal standards, prohibiting discrimination based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, and age.
The second policy, Directive 026-11, titled Use of Face Recognition and Face Capture Technologies, focuses specifically on the responsible use of face recognition technology. The directive mandates thorough testing of all face recognition and capture technologies to prevent unintended bias or disparate impact. It also guarantees the right of U.S. citizens to opt-out of face recognition for specific non-law enforcement purposes. Moreover, the directive prohibits the use of face recognition technology as the sole basis for any law enforcement or civil enforcement actions, with the Department’s oversight offices reviewing all new uses of face recognition technology.
Secretary Mayorkas established the DHS Artificial Intelligence Task Force in April 2023 to advance the use of AI in critical homeland security missions. As part of its responsibilities, the Task Force formulated the newly released policies.
In addition to enhancing its AI capabilities, DHS continues to focus on developing an AI strategy through the Homeland Security Advisory Council. The Council has formed two subcommittees, one dedicated to leveraging AI for critical missions and the other focusing on defending against nefarious uses of AI by adversaries. By utilizing AI effectively and responsibly, DHS aims to strengthen national security efforts and better serve the American people.
The Department’s efforts to ensure the accurate and fair use of AI are supported by the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL). The CRCL, as part of the DHS AI Task Force, aids in governing AI projects and ensures that AI activities operate in a bias-free manner, with fairness and equity in mind.
DHS’s commitment to responsible AI usage aligns with the wider whole-of-government approach to tackle this emerging technology. The Biden-Harris Administration recently announced additional commitments from companies to advance the development of safe, secure, and trustworthy AI. By pursuing bipartisan legislation, the administration aims to position the United States at the forefront of responsible AI development.
To learn more about the Department of Homeland Security’s utilization of AI technologies and its commitment to protecting the country, visit DHS.gov.