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  • Updated: April 14, 2021

EU Contemplates Ban On AI For Mass Surveillance, Social Credit Scores

The European Union will be contemplating banning the use of artificial intelligence for a number of motives including mass surveillance and social credit scores. This was revealed by a leaked proposal that is circulating online, reported by politico and theverge, ahead of an official announcement expected next week.

The proposal would see the EU take a strong stance on certain applications of AI if adopted, setting it apart from the US and China and some use cases would be policed in a manner similar to the EU’s regulation of digital privacy under GDPR legislation.

Member states, for example, would be required to set up assessment boards to test and validate high-risk AI systems. And companies that develop or sell prohibited AI software in the EU — including those based elsewhere in the world — could be fined up to 4 percent of their global revenue.

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The draft regulations include:

  • A ban on AI for “indiscriminate surveillance,” including systems that directly track individuals in physical environments or aggregate data from other sources
  • A ban on AI systems that create social credit scores, which means judging someone’s trustworthiness based on social behavior or predicted personality traits
  • Special authorization for using “remote biometric identification systems” like facial recognition in public spaces
  • Notifications required when people are interacting with an AI system unless this is “obvious from the circumstances and the context of use”
  • New oversight for “high-risk” AI systems, including those that pose a direct threat to safety, like self-driving cars, and those that have a high chance of affecting someone’s livelihood, like those used for job hiring, judiciary decisions, and credit scoring
  • Assessment for high-risk systems before they’re put into service, including making sure these systems are explicable to human overseers and that they’re trained on “high quality” datasets tested for bias
  • The creation of a “European Artificial Intelligence Board,” consisting of representatives from every nation-state, to help the commission decide which AI systems count as “high-risk” and to recommend changes to prohibitions

The most important section is considered to be Article 4, which prohibits certain uses of AI, including mass surveillance and social credit scores. Reactions to the draft from digital rights groups and policy experts, though, say this section needs to be improved.

Europe Policy analyst at Access Now, Daniel Leufer told The Verge that the descriptions of the AI system to be disallowed are unclear and “far from ideal.”

“The descriptions of AI systems to be prohibited are vague and full of language that is unclear and would create serious room for loopholes.”

Leufer asked that How exactly would national laws decide if a decision was to someone’s detriment or not? On the other hand, he said the prohibition against AI for mass surveillance is “far too lenient.”

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He adds that the prohibition on AI social credit systems based on “trustworthiness” is also defined too narrowly. Social credit systems don’t have to assess whether someone is trustworthy to decide things like their eligibility for welfare benefits.

Vice president of nonprofit IAPP (The International Association of Privacy Professionals), Omer Tene on Twitter commented that the regulation “represents the typical Brussels approach to new tech and innovation.


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Lawrence Agbo
Lawrence Agbo

Lawrence is a vibrant journalist that loves creating SEO-focused content that drives businesses. ...

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