European Union

EXPLAINER: What are Europe’s landmark AI regulations?

Reuters

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EXPLAINER: What are Europe’s landmark AI regulations?

AI. Artificial Intelligence words are seen in this illustration taken March 31, 2023

Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Here are the major points of the EU's AI Act, which is the world's first comprehensive set of rules regulating AI

European Union policymakers and lawmakers clinched a deal on Friday on the world’s first comprehensive set of rules regulating the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in tools such as ChatGPT and in biometric surveillance.

They will thrash out details in the coming weeks that could alter the final legislation, which is expected to go into force early next year and apply in 2026.

Until then, companies are encouraged to sign up to a voluntary AI Pact to implement key obligations of the rules.

Here are the key points that have been agreed:

High-risk systems

So-called high-risk AI systems – those deemed to have significant potential to harm health, safety, fundamental rights, the environment, democracy, elections and the rule of law – will have to comply with a set of requirements, such as undergoing a fundamental rights impact assessment, and obligations to gain access to the EU market.

AI systems considered to pose limited risks would be subject to very light transparency obligations, such as disclosure labels declaring that the content was AI-generated to allow users to decide on how to use it.

Use of AI in law enforcement

The use of real-time remote biometric identification systems in public spaces by law enforcement will only be allowed to help identify victims of kidnapping, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and to prevent a specific and present terrorist threat.

They will also be permitted in efforts to track down people suspected of terrorism offenses, trafficking, sexual exploitation, murder, kidnapping, rape, armed robbery, participation in a criminal organization and environmental crime.

General purpose AI systems (GPAI) and foundation models

GPAI and foundation models will be subject to transparency requirements such as drawing up technical documentation, complying with EU copyright law and disseminating detailed summaries about the content used for algorithm training.

Foundation models classed as posing a systemic risk and high-impact GPAI will have to conduct model evaluations, assess and mitigate risks, conduct adversarial testing, report to the European Commission on serious incidents, ensure cybersecurity and report on their energy efficiency.

Until harmonized EU standards are published, GPAIs with systemic risk may rely on codes of practice to comply with the regulation.

Prohibited AI

The regulations bar the following:

– Biometric categorization systems that use sensitive characteristics such as political, religious, philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation, race.

– Untargeted scraping of facial images from the internet or CCTV footage to create facial recognition databases;

– Emotion recognition in the workplace and educational institutions.

– Social scoring based on social behaviour or personal characteristics.

– AI systems that manipulate human behaviour to circumvent their free will.

– AI used to exploit the vulnerabilities of people due to their age, disability, social or economic situation.

Sanctions for violations

Depending on the infringement and the size of the company involved, fines will start from 7.5 million euros ($8 million) or 1.5 % of global annual turnover, rising to up to 35 million euros or 7% of global turnover. – Rappler.com

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