The Future Of Data Privacy

Subcommittee on Technology Modernization Oversight Hearing on the Future of Data Privacy and AI at VA

By PVA National Staff

On January 29, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Technology Modernization held an oversight hearing titled, “the Future of Data Privacy and Artificial Intelligence (AI) at VA.” The purpose of the hearing was to discuss how AI will impact data and privacy within the VA.

This was the committee’s third hearing on this subject. Subcommittee Chairman Matt Rosendale (R-MT) indicated that VA struggles with keeping veterans’ health, personal, and financial information safe. According to the Chairman, data breaches happen every few months and have taken different forms, such as contractors mailing the wrong letters to veterans and employees stealing veterans’ personal information.

VA is often unaware when breaches occur and are subsequently slow to address the issue. The Chairman furthered noted that VA is working to use AI “for some admirable purposes” across the department. But he also warned that “using AI to predict clinical outcomes or mental health problems may be powerful, but it presents a host of ethical problems.”

Gil Alterovitz, Director of the VA’s National Artificial Intelligence Institute, said there’s always a human in the loop that then looks at the results. He further noted that this process is a way to help VA sift through a large amount of data. But when asked by Chairman Rosendale about whether VA has “a good, consistent disclosure process that is being utilized and being signed off by our veterans” for the use of AI tools, Alterovitz confirmed that the department does not have a process in place.

You can watch a video of the hearing here.

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