EU unveils AI rules to temper fears of public surveillance abuses
Published: Apr 21, 2021 07:53 PM
The EU was to unveil a plan on Wednesday to regulate the sprawling field of artificial intelligence, aimed at making Europe a leader in the new tech revolution while reassuring the public against surveillance abuses.

"Whether it's precision farming in agriculture, more accurate medical ­diagnosis or safe autonomous driving - artificial intelligence will open up new worlds for us. But this world also needs rules," European Commission ­President Ursula von der Leyen said in her 

State-of-the-Union speech in September. "We want a set of rules that puts people at the center."

The Commission, the EU's executive arm, has been preparing the proposal for over a year and a debate involving the European Parliament and 27 member states is to go on for months more before a definitive text is in force.

The rules are part of the EU's effort to set the terms on AI and catch up with the US and China in a sector that spans from voice recognition to insurance and law enforcement.

The bloc is trying to learn the ­lessons after largely missing out on the internet revolution and failing to produce any major competitors to match international­ ­giants.

But there have been competing concerns over the plans from both big tech and civil liberties groups arguing that the EU is either overreaching or not going far enough.

The draft regulation will create a ban on a very limited number of uses that threaten the EU's fundamental rights.

This would make "generalized ­surveillance" of the population off-limits as well as any tech "used to manipulate the behavior, opinions or decisions" of ­citizens.

Anything resembling a social rating of individuals based on their behavior or personality would also be prohibited, the draft said.

Military applications of artificial intelligence will not be covered by the rules, and special authorizations are envisioned to cover anti-terrorism activities and public security.

Infringements, depending on their seriousness, may bring companies fines of up to 4 percent of global turnover.

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