Regulating Artificial Intelligence04-22-2021
The European Union has issued a “Proposal for a Regulation on a European Approach for Artificial Intelligence.” Download it here. Sam Schechner and Parmy Olson write that “European officials want to limit police use of facial recognition and ban the use of certain kinds of AI systems, in one of the broadest efforts yet to regulate high-stakes applications of artificial intelligence.” In section 3.5 on “Fundamental rights,” the proposal offers its bureaucratically-worded clarion call for regulating AI:
The use of AI with its specific characteristics (e.g. opacity, complexity, dependency on data, autonomous behaviour) can adversely affect a number of fundamental rights enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (‘the Charter’). This proposal seeks to ensure a high level of protection for those fundamental rights and aims to address various sources of risks through a clearly defined risk-based approach. With a set of requirements for trustworthy AI and proportionate obligations on all value chain participants, the proposal will enhance and promote the protection of the rights protected by the Charter: the right to human dignity (Article 1), respect for private life and protection of personal data (Articles 7 and 8), non-discrimination (Article 21) and equality between women and men (Article 23). It aims to prevent a chilling effect on the rights to freedom of expression (Article 11) and freedom of assembly (Article 12), to ensure protection of the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial, the rights of defence and the presumption of innocence (Articles 47 and 48), as well as the general principle of good administration. Furthermore, as applicable in certain domains, the proposal will positively affect the rights of a number of special groups, such as the workers’ rights to fair and just working conditions (Article 31), a high level of consumer protection (Article 28), the rights of the child (Article 24) and the integration of persons with disabilities (Article 26). The right to a high level of environmental protection and the improvement of the quality of the environment (Article 37) is also relevant, including in relation to the health and safety of people. The obligations for ex ante testing, risk management and human oversight will also facilitate the respect of other fundamental rights by minimising the risk of erroneous or biased AI-assisted decisions in critical areas such as education and training, employment, important services, law enforcement and the judiciary. In case infringements of fundamental rights still happen, effective redress for affected persons will be made possible by ensuring transparency and traceability of the AI systems coupled with strong ex post controls.
This proposal imposes some restrictions on the freedom to conduct business (Article 16) and the freedom of art and science (Article 13) to ensure compliance with overriding reasons of public interest such as health, safety, consumer protection and the protection of other fundamental rights (‘responsible innovation’) when high-risk AI technology is developed and used. Those restrictions are proportionate and limited to the minimum necessary to prevent and mitigate serious safety risks and likely infringements of fundamental rights.
The increased transparency obligations will also not disproportionately affect the right to protection of intellectual property (Article 17(2)), since they will be limited only to the minimum necessary information for individuals to exercise their right to an effective remedy and to the necessary transparency towards supervision and enforcement authorities, in line with their mandates. Any disclosure of information will be carried out in compliance with relevant legislation in the field, including Directive 2016/943 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure. When public authorities and notified bodies need to be given access to confidential information or source code to examine compliance with substantial obligations, they are placed under binding confidentiality obligations.