Representatives of European Union nations acted Wednesday to move forward with a law that would regulate artificial intelligence and protect privacy.
“We have made history today,” said Brando Benifei, a member of the European Parliament, according to CNN.
“While Big Tech companies are sounding the alarm over their own creations, Europe has gone ahead and proposed a concrete response to the risks AI is starting to pose,” Benifei said.
However, the vote to pass the AI Act reflected that differences remain in how nations think technology should be used.
Some nations were pushing back against a ban on police use of live facial recognition technology in public places, according to The Guardian.
“We have seriously looked at the interests of society and our citizens in terms of privacy. And this is why we have gone one step forward than the Commission by taking away the exclusions for law enforcement,” said Dragoș Tudorache, a supporter of the legislation, according to Euronews.
The law calls for makers of AI systems to publish summaries of copyrighted material used for training an AI system and to put in place protections against producing illegal content.
According to the Guardian, failure to follow the EU’s rules would mean either deleting the application or paying a fine equal to 7 percent of the company’s revenue.
Should the U.S. follow the EU’s lead in moving toward greater restrictions on AI?
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“There are plenty of sharp teeth in there,” Tudorache said.
The CNN report also said there would be restrictions on what the EU is calling “high-risk” AI applications, which include “systems used to influence voters in an election, as well as social media platforms with more than 45 million users that recommend content to their users — a list that would include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.”
Francine Bennett, interim director of the Ada Lovelace Institute, which has been pushing for regulations on AI, called the proposal an “important landmark,” according to The New York Times.
“Fast-moving and rapidly repurposable technology is of course hard to regulate, when not even the companies building the technology are completely clear on how things will play out,” Bennett said. “But it would definitely be worse for us all to continue operating with no adequate regulation at all.”
“This moment is hugely significant,” said Daniel Leufer, a senior policy analyst the Brussels office of Access Now, according to Time.
“What the European Union says poses an unacceptable risk to human rights will be taken as a blueprint around the world,” he said.
The Guardian’s report on the AI law said the draft will now go through a review before a final vote that could come later this year. The law would not take effect before 2026.
“AI raises a lot of questions socially, ethically, economically. But now is not the time to hit any ‘pause button.’ On the contrary, it is about acting fast and taking responsibility,” said Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for the internal market.