European Parliament ratifies its position on the EU’s AI law

12 September 2023

After months of analysis, the EU Parliament has ratified its position on the draft Artificial Intelligence Act. The new regulation establishes obligations for providers and users depending on the level of risk of AI.

12 September 2023

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the European Union will be regulated by the Artificial Intelligence Act, which could be the world’s first comprehensive law on AI. As is often the case, law is lagging behind technology, so at a time when AI is experiencing unprecedented growth and is highly topical, there is no country that comprehensively regulates its development and use.

As early as 2021, the Commission proposed an EU regulatory framework whereby AI systems would be analysed and classified according to the risk they pose to users, implying more or less regulation. The Parliament has now ratified this position, contrary to what the US seems to be taking, and sets different rules for different levels of risk.

The AI risk ladder

At the higher end of the danger scale, the EU places those AIs that it considers posing an unacceptable risk as a threat to people and which will be banned. This includes those that involve the cognitive manipulation of the behaviour of specific vulnerable individuals or groups (e.g., voice-activated toys that encourage dangerous behaviour in children); systems for social scoring and ranking people based on their behaviour, socio-economic status or personal characteristics; and remote real-time biometric identification systems – such as facial recognition.

At a lower level are IAs that negatively affect security or fundamental rights, which are considered high risk and are divided into two categories:

  • The first is for AI used in goods subject to EU product safety legislation, such as toys, aviation, cars, medical devices, and lifts.
  • And a second one for IAs belonging to certain specific fields, which will have to be registered in an EU database. These eight areas are:

– biometric identification and categorisation of natural persons
– management and operation of critical infrastructure
– education and vocational training
– employment, employee management and access to self-employment
– access to and enjoyment of essential private services and public services and benefits
– law enforcement
– migration, asylum and border control management
– assistance in legal interpretation and application of the law.

All high-risk AI systems shall be assessed before they are placed on the market and throughout their life cycle.

At the lowest rung are limited-risk AIs, which should meet minimum transparency requirements to allow users to make informed decisions. In particular, users must be aware of when they are interacting with the AI. This includes AI systems that generate or manipulate image, audio, or video content (e.g., deepfakes).

In this regard, generative AI, such as the famous ChatGPT, would have to meet certain transparency requirements such as disclosing that the content has been generated by AI; designing the model to prevent it from generating illegal content; and publishing summaries of the copyrighted data used for “training”. In this regard, in 2020, the Parliament already adopted a report focusing on intellectual property rights emphasising the importance of an effective system to enable the development of AI and with it, the registration of patents and new creative processes. However, one of the main unresolved questions is who owns the intellectual property of something that has been developed entirely with artificial intelligence.

AI: national and European overview

At the national level, Spain has the so-called National Artificial Intelligence Strategy, the ENIA (Estrategia Nacional de Inteligencia Artificial), one of the axes of the Spain Digital Agenda 2026, which presents a series of measures and actions in the field of AI, including the creation of the National Agency for the Supervision of Artificial Intelligence and the development of a regulatory sandbox for the implementation of the EU’s AI Law.

For their part, executives and senior managers of more than 150 major European companies such as Airbus, Siemens and Renault have signed an open letter sent to the main EU institutions expressing their concerns that the AI Act could jeopardise the competitiveness of European industry vis-à-vis its US competitors.

What is certain is that artificial intelligence is set to be a turning point in technology with profound implications for matters such as intellectual property or image rights, and that it must be regulated in a way that is commensurate with its importance.

H&A will keep you informed of legislative and jurisprudential developments as they arise.

5/5 - (1 vote)

Roberto Calles

Abogado propiedad industrial el intelectual


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