EU achieves historic breakthrough with AI regulation agreement

The European Union agreed on a groundbreaking provisional legislation to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) on Friday after three days of negotiations between member states and the European Parliament. European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton announced this decision late on Friday evening.

"The EU becomes the very first continent to set clear rules for the use of AI," Breton wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday. The agreement revolves around legislation to regulate AI systems, such as ChatGPT.

Breton stressed that the legislation is a springboard for European start-ups and researchers "to be at the forefront of the AI race" as European member states want to protect their emerging AI players.

The EU wants to be the first in the world to equip itself with a comprehensive legal framework to limit abuses of AI while ensuring innovation.

New legislation

The new European law classifies AI applications by risk. The more dangers an application carries, the stricter the rules. Under this legislation, governments can only use real-time biometric surveillance in public spaces in cases of victims of certain crimes, prevention of genuine, present, or foreseeable threats, such as terrorist attacks, and searches for people suspected of the most severe offences.

Additionally, cognitive behavioural manipulation will be banned along with biometric categorisation systems that assume political or religious beliefs, sexual orientation or race.

If these regulations were to be breached, consumers would have the right to file complaints, potentially resulting in fines ranging from 7.5 million euros or 1.5 per cent of turnover to 35 million euros or 7 per cent of turnover.

First of its kind

Breton considers this to be a "historic" moment. According to him, the EU is curbing revolutionary technology and giving it wings for young European companies and researchers.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, commended the legislation early on Saturday morning, saying, “The AI Act transposes European values to a new era." She called the act "the first-ever comprehensive legal framework on AI worldwide that will foster responsible innovation in Europe by focusing regulation on identifiable risks."

While the agreement has been well-received, it must still be submitted to the entirety of the EU parliament and EU member states for final confirmation.


European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton ©Hans Lucas via AFP

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