The Labor Market Assistance System: A Fight for Fairness and Privacy in Austria

More information needed about the contentious AMS algorithm

The introduction of the Labor Market Assistance System (AMAS) in Austria was halted by the data protection authority in August 2020 due to concerns about legal basis and profiling. The Federal Administrative Court overturned the decision, but the administrative court has now made a ruling after almost three years.

The AMS aimed to divide unemployed people into categories with high, medium, and low labor market opportunities using a computer algorithm. However, the responsible advisors should still make final decisions about unemployment support. The question of admissibility arises whether the algorithm has a significant influence on AMS personnel’s decisions. If this is the case, a separate legal basis would be required for this decision-making process.

The Administrative Court has certified that the algorithm is in the “significant public interest” but also confirmed that profiling exists. The VwGH states that it must be clarified in a new procedure whether the AMS employees’ decision about job seekers is largely determined by automatically calculated labor market opportunities. This remains unclear when and in what form the program could be used. The AMS wants to examine this issue in detail and decide on further action based on its findings.

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