European Parliament adopts AI Act with overwhelming majority

June 15, 2023

The European Parliament has adopted its negotiating position on the Artificial Intelligence Act with 499 votes in favour, 28 against and 93 abstentions. The rules aim to ensure that AI developed and used in Europe is fully in line with EU rights and values including human oversight, safety, privacy, transparency, non-discrimination and social and environmental wellbeing.

Prohibited AI practices

The rules follow a risk-based approach and establish obligations for providers and those deploying AI systems depending on the level of risk the AI can generate. Consequently, AI systems with an unacceptable level of risk to people’s safety would be prohibited, such as those used for social scoring (classifying people based on their social behaviour or personal characteristics). The European Parliament draft also bans intrusive and discriminatory uses of AI, such as:

  • “real-time” and “post” remote biometric identification systems in publicly accessible spaces;
  • biometric categorisation systems using sensitive characteristics (e.g. sex, race, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion, political orientation);
  • predictive policing systems (based on profiling, location or past criminal behaviour);
  • emotion recognition systems in law enforcement, border management, the workplace, and educational institutions; and
  • untargeted scraping of facial images from the internet or CCTV footage to create facial recognition databases (violating human rights and right to privacy).

High-risk AI

The Parliament’s draft also expands the rules about the classification of high-risk applications. They will include AI systems that pose significant harm to people’s health, safety, fundamental rights or the environment. AI systems used to influence voters and the outcome of elections and in recommender systems used by social media platforms (with over 45 million users) are also on the high-risk list.

Obligations for general purpose AI

Providers of foundation models – a new and fast-evolving development in the field of AI – will be required to assess and mitigate possible risks (to health, safety, fundamental rights, the environment, democracy and rule of law) and register their models in the EU database before their release on the EU market. Generative AI systems based on such models, like ChatGPT, would have to comply with transparency requirements (disclosing that the content was AI-generated, also helping distinguish so-called deep-fake images from real ones) and ensure safeguards against generating illegal content. Detailed summaries of the copyrighted data used for their training would also have to be made publicly available.

Supporting innovation and protecting citizens’ rights

To boost AI innovation and support SMEs, MEPs added exemptions for research activities and AI components provided under open-source licenses. The new law promotes regulatory sandboxes to test AI before its deployed.

Finally, MEPs want to boost individuals’ right to file complaints about AI systems and receive explanations of decisions based on high-risk AI systems that significantly affect their fundamental rights. MEPs also reformed the role of the EU AI Office, which would be tasked with monitoring how the AI rulebook is implemented.