Many of the digital risk prediction systems integrated into Unemployment, TANF, SNAP, and other social insurance programs in the United States over the last two decades promised to reduce waste and abuse by stopping fraud before it starts. In reality, these systems are increasingly used to tunnel through decades-old program data, looking for alleged overpayments that are then converted into debt for collection by the federal Treasury Offset Program (TOP). This talk compares the RoboDebt case in Australia to current practice in the United States, drawing on collaborative work with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) to shed light on the political implications of punitive debt production in six states.

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