European Data Protection Supervisor shares Opinion on Commission’s AI White Paper
Back in January 2020, President of the European Commission von der Leyen referred to artificial intelligence as a priority in her keynote speech at the World Economic Forum, calling for a ‘frame’ similar to that of the GDPR that caters to different interests: first, that ‘allows for progress and research’, second, while also protecting privacy and other personal rights, and third, to allow ‘digital businesses to grow in Europe’ and guide ‘international companies who want to do business in the European digital market’.
Subsequently, in February, the European Commission clearly included artificial intelligence regulation on its policy agenda, and published a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence, which proposes a set of actions to foster the development and the adoption of AI and a new regulatory framework that would address concerns specific to AI. The White Paper was opened up for public consultation, and debated by the European Parliament. Although the latter considered AI in respect of the use of artificial intelligence by the police and judicial authorities, including its benefits and risks, and more specifically, predictive policing, facial recognition, and the ethical and fundamental rights issues that may rise, a resulting Parliament resolution focused on AI in the consumer context. The Council has since also referred to the White Paper in conclusions, considering it as a key tool for its objectives to accelerate the EU’s digital transformation.
The European Data Protection Supervisor supports a European approach to artificial intelligence and has now presented his Opinion on that White Paper (having made preliminary observations in January 2020). That Opinion provides more focus on the safeguards that are necessary in regulation of this field: the protection of EU values and fundamental rights, EU personal data protection rights, highlighting the issues around predictive policing, and providing recommendations to address the foregoing. Summarily, those recommendations propose wide inclusivity of the Member States as well as EU institutions, agencies and bodies for the purposes of a coherent approach; protection from any negative impact; a more robust and nuanced classification scheme; an impact assessment to identify the regulatory gaps that would be filled (which it regrets is not mentioned in the White Paper); and advises postponement of the use of artificial intelligence in public spaces.