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Dozens of councils are using privately developed software to “mass profile” benefit claimants, privacy campaigners say.

The algorithms, designed to predict fraud and rent arrears, “treat the poor with suspicion and prejudice”, according to Big Brother Watch.

Councils say good use of data can help them target services more efficiently.

But Big Brother Watch has complained to the Information Commissioner about a “Wild West of algorithms”.

Using Freedom of Information law, the group requested data on the use of automated tools from more than 400 local authorities and council-owned housing associations in England, Wales and

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