The Paradox of Efficiency: Frictions Between Law and Algorithms

Ana Valdivia, Fachinformationsdienst Für Internationale Und Interdisziplinäre Rechtsforschung
2022 Verfassungsblog: On Matters Constitutional  
On the 13th of January 2022, a Spanish Administrative court ruled in favour of algorithmic opacity. Fundación Civio, an independent foundation that monitors and accounts public authorities, reported that an algorithm used by the government was committing errors. 1) Disclaimer: This author is the lawyer defendant of Fundación Civio in BOSCO's case, herein commented. BOSCO, the name of the application which contained the algorithm, was implemented by the Spanish public administration to more
more » ... iently identify citizens eligible for grants to pay electricity bills. Meanwhile, Civio designed a web app to inform citizens whether they would be entitled for this grant. 2) See: (Last accessed: March 10, 2022). Thousands of citizens used this application and some of them reported that, while Civio's web app suggested they were eligible, the aid was denied. On this basis, Civio requested BOSCO's source code from the Transparency Council, yet the petition was declined. In response, Civio decided to take the case to court, which resulted in a ruling denying public access to the source code on the grounds of security. The ruling is currently under appeal. This example clearly exposes the paradox of efficiency: the implementation of algorithmic systems for the sake of efficiency that end up being inefficient, due to unforeseen issues when installing the system in real life, such as bugs, errors, or biases. Moreover, we claim that this paradox leads to friction between current legal frameworks and algorithms.
doi:10.17176/20220402-131142-0 fatcat:isysmlc5vbesljmn2nnnfgxwwy