European parliament adopts landmark Artificial Intelligence Act

March 15th, 2024 Posted in evalian® News

Our data protection experts are staying on top of the latest AI regulations updates in the EU and the UK, to ensure your organisation knows about the latest developments and what you need to do to comply. We recently posted about the EU’s proposed AI regulations and how the UK can adopt an agile approach to AI compliance. Now the wait is over as the European parliament has adopted the landmark Artificial Intelligence Act. Read on to learn more about “The Act” and the next steps for your organisation.

The wait is over

In a pivotal move towards regulating Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) and ensuring its responsible use, the European Parliament approved the groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence Act (the “Act”) on Wednesday. This landmark legislation aims to safeguard fundamental rights, promote innovation, and establish Europe as a global leader in the field of AI. Provisions within the Act will start taking effect in stages with full implementation expected in 2026.

Key elements of the Act include:

1. Upholding fundamental rights

The Act places a strong emphasis on protecting fundamental rights, democracy, and the rule of law from the potential risks posed by AI technology. By setting clear roles, responsibilities and obligations for AI systems, the Act seeks to mitigate the harmful potential impacts on individuals and society.

2. Prohibited applications

The Act prohibits certain AI applications that threaten citizens’ rights, such as biometric categorisation systems and emotion recognition in sensitive environments like workplaces and schools. Additionally, it prohibits the use of AI for predictive policing and the manipulation of human behaviour.

3. Law enforcement safeguards

While acknowledging the importance of law enforcement tools, the Act imposes strict safeguards on the use of biometric identification systems by law enforcement agencies. Real-time deployment of such systems is permitted only under specific conditions and subject to judicial or administrative authorisation.

4. Obligations for high-risk systems

Due to the significant potential harm that can derive from high-risk AI systems, such as those used in critical infrastructure, education, healthcare, and law enforcement, such systems are subject to clear obligations to assess and mitigate risks, maintain transparency, and ensure human oversight. Under the Act, individuals have the right to submit complaints about AI systems affecting their rights.

5. Transparency requirements

The Act mandates transparency requirements for general-purpose AI systems, including compliance with copyright law and the labelling of manipulated content such as deepfakes. This transparency aims to foster trust and accountability in AI technologies.

6. Support for innovation and SMEs

To encourage innovation in AI, the Act will support in establishing regulatory sandboxes and real-world testing environments accessible to SMEs and startups. This initiative aims to promote responsible AI development while supporting the growth of small businesses in the sector.

The adoption of the Artificial Intelligence Act marks a significant step forward in regulating AI technology and ensuring its responsible use in European society. By prioritising fundamental rights, promoting innovation, and establishing clear guidelines for AI systems, this landmark legislation sets a precedent for global AI governance.

Next steps for your organisation

Start reading the Act; get to grips with what the Act entails and how it will affect your organisation. As stated above, the Act sets out clear roles and responsibilities for organisations so it is important you understand how the Act will affect your business and your use of AI. Also, some rules will start applying a year after the law takes effect so it is imperative you get up to speed now.

In the coming months, we will be releasing guidance on steps and measures to take to ensure you meet the Act’s requirements. In the meantime, if you would like any help in understanding how the Act will impact your business or you would like to discuss AI governance in general, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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Raymond Orife Evalian 250x250

Written by Ray Orife

Ray specialises in data protection and information rights law. He is a qualified solicitor and worked in private practice and in-house in commercial law roles before focusing on data protection. Before joining Evalian™ he was in-house counsel and Data Protection Officer for a high street financial services organisation and their associated businesses. His qualifications include a First Class Honours Degree in Law, LPC (Distinction), Practitioner Certificate in Data Protection (PC.dp) and IAPP CIPP/E.