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No Big Brother in Europe! AI rules must defend citizens’ private lives and data, say S&Ds


21 Apr 2021


Innovation & Enterprise

Reacting to the European Commission’s proposal for new regulations in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Socialists and Democrats demand legislation that is at least as groundbreaking as the regulation on Data Protection (GDPR).

While the current proposal is a good start, the S&D Group will work hard to defend fundamental rights, such as privacy in particular, when it comes to facial recognition in public spaces.

Ismail Ertug MEP, S&D vice-president in charge of digitalisation, said:

“AI is the key technology to revolutionise the mobility sector. Autonomous vehicles, Real-time railway system optimisation or fuel planning - we need AI to master the transition to a safe, inclusive environmentally-friendly mobility. It will reduce traffic, accidents, and pollution.

“The European Commission addressed the growing importance by defining high-risk applications. Clear responsibility and liability will help consumers gain trust in the use of AI and will harmonise the rules for deployment in the European market. What the proposal lacks is bans on the harmful use for the military and biometric facial recognition. AI technology should never undermine citizens’ rights to privacy, particularly when it comes to facial recognition rules. AI should never lead to mass surveillance or discrimination, and we need to ban any applications that would lead to it. We must stop using facial recognition systems until we are sure they are fully compliant with fundamental rights standards. If we want the AI regulation to become another European success story like the GDPR, we need clear rules that work for all.”

Christel Schaldemose MEP, S&D spokeswoman on the internal market and consumer protection, said:

“There is no doubt that AI has a huge potential and is one of the most promising and strategic technologies for our future. But, in order to release the potential we must keep people’s best interests at heart: Innovation and economic growth must go hand in hand with a trustworthy, and human-centric AI. Therefore, the new regulation must ensure a transparent and ethical use of AI, an inclusion of the precautionary principle and a prohibition of harmful and discriminatory practices. I believe the Commission’s proposal provides a good starting point, but more needs to be done in order to protect consumers, ensure trustworthiness and make AI technologies a tool that can help achieve a European socially fair and progressive society.”

Tiemo Wölken MEP, S&D Group spokesman on legal affairs, said:

“AI presents many complex new challenges around safety, security, human dignity and privacy. In October last year, we led the Parliament in putting groundbreaking proposals on the table for a sound and future-proof ethical framework for AI in Europe. We called for new laws and principles to guarantee AI and robotics are not just human-centric and human-made, but to ensure their use is safe, transparent and accounted for. From a first look at today’s proposals, I am pleased to confirm that the Commission shares most of our views on the ethics. However, going forward we need the rules to better reflect the reality that AI affects not just consumers, but also citizens and broader society, including when used by public authorities. Ultimately, for people to benefit from the huge potential in new technology, they have to fully trust and have complete confidence in all aspects of AI.”

Ibán García del Blanco MEP, S&D AIDA coordinator, said:

“While Artificial Intelligence is becoming more and more present in our daily lives, we need clear rules in Europe to ensure a human-centric, trustworthy and ethical AI, while promoting social justice and the just transition of our economy. These rules should govern any AI, which may affect EU citizens. 

“European AI rules must enhance our social and democratic principles respecting fundamental rights, such as privacy and non-discrimination. Ethical AI rules should be applied from the entire AI life-cycle from design, allowing for human autonomy and human oversight, ensuring safety and transparency and a strong governance of systems by incorporating the highest standards available. 

“We will pay particular attention to privacy and there must be no discrimination or bias built into the algorithms at any stage of their development process so that the citizens can be safeguarded in relation to those technologies. AI technologies must serve the society as a whole and they must benefit the people as citizens, users, consumers and workers. We must ensure a democratic dialogue with civil society, and social partners must always play a crucial role in their development, deployment and use. 
“There should be a system of conformity assessment and EU certification before they would be authorised, ensuring their compliance with fundamental rights and the ethical principles, or otherwise a ban or prohibition if those AI applications were in any way incompatible with fundamental rights.”



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