In April 2021, the EU Commission (EC) proposed a suite of new legislative and non-legislative proposals related to artificial intelligence: in a proposed Regulation laying down rules on Artificial Intelligence (“Artificial Intelligence Act – AIA”), the EC attempts the first-ever comprehensive legal framework for this highly debated and fast-developing family of technologies. As summarized below, and as set forth in more detail in our recent article, we identify key policy considerations and proposed new restrictions, risk-classifications and related obligations for AI providers and users stemming from this landmark proposal.
Status Quo of the EU Policy Debate
The complex and far-reaching nature of the proposed AIA will undoubtedly lead to lengthy negotiations. The Council of the EU has debated the proposed AIA at the technical level. The Council of Ministers already held a first exchange of views on the AIA proposal in June. The proposed AIA is a top priority for the Slovenian Presidency, which aims to reach a General Approach by the end of its mandate in December 2021. However, we expect these complex deliberations to last well into 2022, leaving it up to the French or maybe even the Czech Council Presidency to continue and possibly conclude the Council’s General Approach.
The New Artificial Intelligence Act (AIA)
The EC recognises the benefits that AI can play in society, from improved medical care to better education. However, as some AI systems create risks, the EC considers that a new regulatory regime is necessary in order to protect users, including from a fundamental rights and user safety perspective without constraining the technological development, for instance in the area of remote biometric recognition.
The AIA will even apply if the provider and user are established outside the EU, but the output produced by those systems is used in the EU. AIA will, thus, apply to providers of AI systems (e.g., a developer of a CV-screening tool), as well as users of such AI systems (e.g., a bank buying this CV-screening tool). It will not apply to private, non-professional use.
The legislative process on the AIA proposal will continue to develop in the months to come, with the debate to continue through 2022. The EU envisages setting the standards that will pave the way for ethical technology worldwide while simultaneously ensuring the EU remains competitive. However, what seems beyond doubt is that the EU legislative process will work its way towards the first major regulation of AI systems globally, and that any company seeking to do business in or with the EU will have to comply.