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Council of EU Signs Off on AI Act

The Artificial Intelligence Act awaits Members of the European Parliament approval before becoming law.

The Council of the European Union has officially adopted its common position, or general approach, on the Artificial Intelligence Act, bringing the legislation closer to fruition.

The approach was adopted during the Council’s Telecom ministerial meeting after an agreement on the approach was struck at the Member State level back in November.

“We managed to achieve a delicate balance which will boost innovation and uptake of artificial intelligence technology across Europe. With all the benefits it presents, on the one hand, and full respect of the fundamental rights of our citizens, on the other,” said Ivan Bartoš, Czech deputy prime minister for digitalization and minister of regional development.

The legislation now requires approval from the EU to be transposed into law. But such a likelihood may be some ways away as ministers are at loggerheads over provisions covering biometric identification systems.

What They Agreed On

The definition was narrowed to systems developed through machine learning approaches and logic- and knowledge-based approaches. The change was made so as to provide “sufficiently clear criteria for distinguishing AI from simpler software systems.”

Concerning prohibited AI practices, the text extends to private actors on using AI for social scoring. Further, the provision prohibiting the use of AI systems that exploit the vulnerabilities of a specific group of persons has been expanded to include those who are disadvantaged by their social or economic situations.

As regards the remote biometric identification systems – the sticking point for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) − the text clarifies that they can be used only in cases where it is “strictly necessary for law enforcement purposes.”

The ‘high-risk’ classification has also received a slight tweak – with an addition to “ensure that AI systems that are not likely to cause serious fundamental rights violations or other significant risks are not captured.”

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