The European Parliament is poised to enter negotiations on groundbreaking regulations for Artificial Intelligence (AI). With a resounding majority of 499 votes in favor, 28 against, and 93 abstentions, MEPs adopted their negotiating position on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act. These rules aim to ensure that AI developed and utilized in Europe aligns fully with EU rights and values, prioritizing human oversight, safety, privacy, transparency, non-discrimination, and social and environmental well-being.
Prohibition of AI Practices to Safeguard Rights and Democracy
The adopted rules adopt a risk-based approach, imposing obligations on providers and deployers of AI systems based on the level of risk they pose. Certain AI practices with an unacceptable risk to individuals’ safety will be completely banned. These include AI applications used for social scoring, which classifies people based on their behavior or personal characteristics.
Additionally, the list of prohibited practices has been expanded to include intrusive and discriminatory uses of AI, such as:
- “Real-time” remote biometric identification systems in publicly accessible spaces;
- “Post” remote biometric identification systems, with the only exception of law enforcement for the prosecution of serious crimes and only after judicial authorization;
- biometric categorization systems using sensitive characteristics (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion, political orientation);
- predictive policing systems (based on profiling, location, or past criminal behavior);
- emotion recognition systems in law enforcement, border management, the workplace, and educational institutions; and
- untargeted scraping of facial images from the internet or CCTV footage to create facial recognition databases (violating human rights and right to privacy).
High-Risk AI Systems and Their Implications
MEPs have introduced a classification for high-risk AI applications that pose significant harm to individuals’ health, safety, fundamental rights, or the environment. The updated high-risk list now includes AI systems used to influence voters and election outcomes, as well as recommender systems employed by social media platforms with over 45 million users.
Obligations for General Purpose AI Systems
Providers of foundation models, an evolving development in AI, will be required to assess and mitigate potential risks related to health, safety, fundamental rights, the environment, democracy, and the rule of law. These models must be registered in the EU database before release on the market. Generative AI systems, such as ChatGPT, based on such models, will be subject to transparency requirements, disclosing that the content was AI-generated. This measure aims to distinguish deep-fake images from real ones and includes safeguards against generating illegal content. Detailed summaries of the copyrighted data used for training must also be made publicly available.
Balancing Innovation and Citizen Protection
To support AI innovation and assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), exemptions have been included for research activities and AI components provided under open-source licenses. The legislation also encourages the establishment of regulatory sandboxes, real-life environments for testing AI before deployment. Furthermore, MEPs seek to strengthen citizens’ rights by enabling them to file complaints about AI systems and receive explanations for decisions made by high-risk AI systems that significantly impact their fundamental rights. The EU AI Office’s role has been reformed to monitor the implementation of the AI rulebook.
MEPs’ Perspectives on the AI Act
Following the vote, co-rapporteur Brando Benifei (S&D, Italy) remarked that Europe’s response to the risks posed by AI is a concrete one, emphasizing the importance of protecting democracies and freedoms during negotiations with the Council. Co-rapporteur Dragos Tudorache (Renew, Romania) highlighted that the AI Act would set the global tone for AI development and governance, ensuring the technology aligns with European values of democracy, fundamental rights, and the rule of law.
Next Steps in the Legislative Process
Negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council to finalize the law will commence later today, marking a significant milestone in the establishment of comprehensive AI regulations.
Press Conference and Public Engagement
Co-rapporteurs Brando Benifei and Dragos Tudorache, along with EP President Roberta Metsola, will hold a press conference on 14 June at 13:30. The purpose of this conference is to explain the outcomes of the vote and outline the subsequent steps in implementing the AI Act.
Responding to Citizens’ Proposals
MEPs’ advancement of this legislation reflects the input received from citizens during the Conference on the Future of Europe. Key proposals regarding human oversight of AI-related processes, harnessing the potential of trustworthy AI, and overcoming language barriers through AI and translation technologies have been taken into account.
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