Lawmakers turned their fire on Goldman Sachs over Apple Card and said the bank needs to explain its algorithm

elizabeth warrenReuters

  • Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden separately called out Goldman Sachs for its handling of recent allegations that its credit decisions for the Apple Card are biased.
  • Wyden tweeted Wednesday that he is "investigating" the allegations against Goldman and Apple, while Warren told Bloomberg that the bank needed to explain its decisions on credit limits.
  • Their comments came after entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson said in a series of viral tweets that he had received a credit limit 20 times that of his wife.
  • Goldman has denied that gender is a factor in deciding people's credit limits, but hasn't explained how it decides people's credit limits.
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Prominent Democratic lawmakers have turned their fire on Goldman Sachs over allegations that its credit decisions for the Apple Card are sexist.

US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren lambasted Goldman in an interview with Bloomberg published Thursday, while Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said he is "investigating" the allegations in a Wednesday tweet.

Goldman Sachs is the bank partner for Apple's new credit card, Apple Card, and has been engulfed in allegations of sexism for the last week.

Last week, prominent tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson tweeted that he had received a credit limit for Apple Card 20 times that of his wife, despite he and his wife filing joint tax returns, living in a community-property state, and being married "for a long time."

His tweets prompted outcry that Goldman Sachs might be relying on algorithms which automatically give women a lower credit score for no discernible reason.

Apple CardHollis Johnson/Business Insider

The bank has denied gender is a factor in its scoring and said people could contest decisions.

Elizabeth Warren told Bloomberg on Wednesday: "Yeah, great. So let's just tell every woman in America, 'You might have been discriminated against, on an unknown algorithm, it's on you to telephone Goldman Sachs and tell them to straighten it out,'" Warren said. "Sorry guys, that's not how it works."

Warren added that algorithms can't make unbiased decisions if they are trained on biased data. She said that if Goldman could not provide information on how the algorithm was designed, or the exact nature of its impact, then "they [Goldman] need to pull it down."

Meanwhile Wyden tweeted on Wednesday that he is investigating the bias allegations. "I'm investigating whether these allegations are true," he wrote. "If they are, I expect Apple and Goldman Sachs to do everything in their power to put an end to discrimination."

Goldman Sachs has said it doesn't know people's gender or marital status during the application process for Apple Card, but has yet to fully explain its decision-making process.

Warren and Wyden are two of the most active critics of big tech on the US political scene. Wyden was among those lawmakers to express "deep concern" over Apple's removal of the Hong Kong police-tracking app HKMap.live last month, in an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, while Warren is well-known for proposing the breakup of tech giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook.

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