Civil groups urge EU to amend AI law for fundamental rights protection
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Civil groups urge EU to amend AI law for fundamental rights protection

A consortium of 114 civil society organisations Tuesday asked the European Union’s (EU) Parliament, Council and member states to undertake major revisions to the proposed Artificial Intelligence Act unveiled in April this year.

In their letter, the rights groups noted that the regulatory vacuum in the development and use of AI systems is increasingly threatening human rights and the EU’s democratic values. Because AI systems are incorporated in all spheres of public life, including healthcare, social security and policing the groups argued that the new AI legislation must address the “structural, societal, political and economic impacts” of the technology.

These organisations, including groups like European Digital Rights (EDRi), Access Now and AlgorithmWatch, recommended that the Artificial Intelligence Act meet nine goals. First, the groups urged the EU to create “[a] cohesive, flexible and future-proof approach to the ‘risk’ of AI systems.” They also asked for a ban on AI that carries a high risk to fundamental rights, including the monitoring of public spaces, discriminatory biometric categorisation and systems that predict future criminal activity.

The 114 organisations also demanded the EU impose obligations on AI users that would “facilitate accountability” and require users to register their AI systems in a public database. The groups also asked for meaningful legal rights for those impacted by AI technologies, accessibility, and stringent environmental protection from AI systems.

Finally, the groups requested an improvement of standards for AI systems and “[a] truly comprehensive law that works for everyone,” including women, racialised people, migrants, LGBTIQ+ people, persons with disabilities, sex workers, children and youth, older people, and poor and working-class communities.

The EU’s law is expected to be one of the first on AI technology, setting a global standard for emulation by other jurisdictions. The proposal is presently set for its first reading in the EU Parliament.