The European Parliament voted today on the outcome of the trilogues on the AI Act, a text which is not ambitious enough and that has changed for the worse from the initial Parliament position. 

In a rush to have the first-ever AI regulation, the EU is adopting a new law that prioritises the interests of Big Tech over citizens’ safety.

The agreement leaves many loopholes for national security, very low standards for Big Tech and poor protections for citizens. Member States failed to guarantee strong protections for consumers and citizens, preferring instead to make exemptions for national security reasons and rolling out the red carpet for Big Tech. This means the positive elements of the legislative proposal are severely undermined by the many exclusions and exceptions. 

The exceptions now include the biometric identification from recorded material, a method The Left pushed to ban. At the same time, the companies will have to self-assess whether the AI systems they place on the market are high-risk or not.

The AI regulation needs profound improvements to put the interests of the citizens first, when it comes to dangerous products.

Left MEP Kateřina Konečná (KSČM, Czech Republic) said:

“The European Commission has put considerable pressure on the European Parliament to adopt a regulation on Artificial Intelligence as soon as possible, stemming from an effort of von der Leyen to put her name in the history books by introducing the first AI regulation in the world, regardless of the content of the regulation. Unfortunately, the majority of the Parliament yielded to this pressure and the provisional deal ends up legitimizing dangerous practices and encroaching on fundamental rights. 

In addition to several exemptions granted to law enforcement agencies, including exemptions of biometric identification technologies, the regulation gives companies developing AI systems freedom to test their products, under certain conditions, in real-world settings such as on our streets or online. The regulation thus puts aside citizens’ safety and puts the interest of the mega-rich at the centre.”

Left MEP Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany) added:

“The EU regulation on AI would have been a real opportunity to set global standards for dealing with artificial intelligence. The EU plays a pioneering role here globally. In some points, the regulation can be viewed positively: explicit provisions are laid down to ensure greater employee protection when AI is used in the workplace. But the European Parliament was unable to push through essential elements in the negotiations. Parliament’s ban on real-time facial recognition in public spaces was effectively overturned by a long list of exceptions. The AI regulation will also allow emotion recognition, i.e. mumbo jumbo like polygraphs and predictive policing. Although these systems are considered high-risk, they are not banned by the regulation. This is a missed opportunity.”

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