With the AI genie now well and truly out of its box, it's timely that the European Parliament and its member states have agreed "historic" new laws that will govern artificial intelligence, social media and search engines.
Dragoș Tudorache, the Romanian MEP who spear-headed the European Parliament’s four-year battle to regulate AI, said that the EU was determined not to make the mistakes of the past, when tech giants such as Facebook were allowed to grow into multi-billion dollar corporations with no obligation to regulate content on their platforms.
The new regulations were described as “historic” by Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner responsible for a suite of laws in Europe that will also govern social media and search engines, including tech giants like X, TikTok and Google.
The agreement puts the EU ahead of the US, China and the UK in the race to regulate artificial intelligence and protect the public from risks that many fear the rapidly developing technology carries. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the AI Act would help the development of technology that does not threaten people's safety and rights.
However, officials have provided few details on what exactly will make it into the eventual law, which should come into effect in 2025. But they have declared that it will include a ban on use of real-time surveillance and biometric technologies including emotional recognition but with three exceptions, according to Breton. It would mean police would be able to use the invasive technologies only in the event of an unexpected threat of a terrorist attack, the need to search for victims and in the prosecution of serious crime.
MEP Brando Benefei, who co-led the parliament’s negotiating team, said after the deal was struck: “We had one objective to deliver a legislation that would ensure that the ecosystem of AI in Europe will develop with a human-centric approach respecting fundamental rights, human values, building trust, building consciousness of how we can get the best out of this AI revolution that is happening before our eyes,”