Wednesday, 20 November, 2019

Apple Card being investigated for gender bias by NY authorities

Gender discrimination is allegedly involved in new Apple Card algorithms used to determine credit limits Gender discrimination is allegedly involved in new Apple Card algorithms used to determine credit limits
Russell Knight | 11 November, 2019, 04:51

A NY financial regulator is investigating claims of gender discrimination by the new credit card from tech giant Apple and its issuer Goldman Sachs, after a cardholder's tweet about his wife's credit limit went viral.

The department will be conducting an investigation to determine whether NY law was violated and ensure all consumers are treated equally regardless of sex.

He tweeted that appeals when she got a far lower credit limit fell on deaf ears. According to the entrepreneur, the maximum loan amount that he was allowed to take was about 20 times more than the amount that his wife could get.

A spokesman for Goldman Sachs, Andrew Williams, denied anything sinister was happening: "Our credit decisions are based on a customer's creditworthiness and not on factors like gender, race, age, sexual orientation or any other basis prohibited by law".

The agency is "troubled to learn of potential discriminatory treatment in regards to credit limit decisions reportedly made by an algorithm of Apple Card, issued by Goldman Sachs", said spokeswoman Sophia Kim. It became available in the U.S. in August.

The card, a partnership between Apple and Goldman Sachs, made its debut in the United States in August.

NY law prohibits discrimination against protected classes of individuals, which means an algorithm, as with any other method of determining creditworthiness, can not result in disparate treatment for individuals based on age, creed, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, or other protected characteristics.

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But Mr Hansson, creator of the programming tool Ruby on Rails, said it highlights how algorithms, not just people, can discriminate.

Later, Mr Wozniak, who founded Apple with Steve Jobs, tweeted that the same thing happened to him and his wife despite their having no separate bank accounts or separate assets. Hard to get to a human for a correction though.

Goldman Sachs is being investigated for possible sex discrimination in the way it sets credit limits on the Apple Card.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As with any other individual credit card, your application is evaluated independently.

After speaking to customer service across Apple and Goldman Sachs and going through higher levels of management, Goldman did up Hansson's wife's credit limit to match his own, but no one was able to explain exactly why there was originally such a difference in their approvals, other than to say it might have something to do with "the algorithm".

"My thread is full of accounts from women who've been declared to be worse credit risks than their husbands, despite higher credit scores or incomes", he said.

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