Software

European parliament passes comprehensive AI legislation, first in world to substantively deal with new tech

The new law will ban use of AI in biometric categorization and other uses.
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A first legislative salvo on the international stage against the dangers of AI came from Brussels, but it likely won’t be the last.

On March 13, European parliamentarians passed the Artificial Intelligence Act, a bill aimed at protecting “fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law and environmental sustainability from high-risk AI, while boosting innovation and establishing Europe as a leader in the field.”

“The AI Act is a starting point for a new model of governance built around technology,” Civil Liberties Committee co-rapporteur Dragos Tudorache said in a statement. “We must now focus on putting this law into practice.”

First moves. Steven Farmer, an AI specialist at international law firm Pillsbury, told CNBC that the parliament’s move means Europe is on the front lines of tech regulation, citing the 2016 General Data Protection Regulation.

“Once again, it’s the EU that has moved first, developing a very comprehensive set of regulations,” Farmer said.

Patrick Van Eecke, a partner at global law firm Cooley, agreed, telling Reuters that “other countries and regions are likely to use the AI Act as a blueprint, just as they did with the GDPR.”

Death by details. The new law will ban use of AI that threatens civil rights, such as biometric categorization based on protected characteristics, facial image scraping online or from CCTV, social scoring, predictive policing, and other uses. AI technologies in the union will be expected to meet transparency requirements.

“AI systems considered ‘high-risk,’ such as those used in critical infrastructure, education, healthcare, law enforcement, border management or elections, will have to comply with strict requirements,” the BBC reported.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola posted on X that the law “means leadership, innovation and new avenues” as well as “respect for fundamental rights.”

“Artificial intelligence is already very much part of our daily lives,” Metsola added. “Now, it will be part of our legislation too.”

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to cloud computing, IT Brew covers the latest trends shaping business tech in our 4x weekly newsletter, virtual events with industry experts, and digital guides.