EU considers banning using AI for mass surveillance and social credit score scores

An annotated image from the IBM Diversity in Faces dataset for facial recognition systems.


LONDON – The use of artificial intelligence software for mass surveillance and social behavior grading could soon be banned in Europe according to the draft law published online.

The 81-page document, first reported by Politico, states: “Indiscriminate surveillance of natural persons should be banned if it is applied generally to all persons without differentiation.”

It adds that surveillance methods could include surveillance and tracking of people in digital and physical environments.

On social credit scoring, which is already used in China to stop travelers when they commit “social misdeeds”. The bill says “AI systems used for general social assessment” should be banned.

While China is able to keep an eye on its citizens with its credit rating system, some scholars argue that it is too intrusive and could result in the government taking control of people’s lives.

Certain uses of “high risk” AI in Europe could be banned altogether, according to the document, while others may not be able to enter the block if they do not meet certain standards.

A European Commission spokesman told CNBC: “The Commission is expected to adopt the legal framework for AI next Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Any text you see earlier is therefore not ‘legitimate’ by definition – we are not commenting on any Leaks. “

balancing act

AI systems identified as high risk should be reviewed if they are to be deployed, and the system’s developers may need to demonstrate that it has been trained on unbiased data sets in a traceable manner and under human supervision.

Companies developing AI inside and outside the EU could face a fine of 20 million euros, or 4% of global sales, for breaking the laws that have not yet been introduced.

The proposals are expected to be officially announced by the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, next week and are subject to change until then. They must be voted on before they are presented.

The European Commission is trying to strike the right balance between supporting innovation and making sure AI benefits more than 500 million people. If the proposals are adopted, Europe could stand out from the US and China, which have yet to introduce serious AI regulation.

Omer Tene, vice president for non-profit organizations of the International Association of Privacy Professionals, said on Twitter that legislation “is the typical Brussels approach to new technologies and innovations. Regulate when in doubt”.

Samim Winiger, an AI researcher in Berlin, told CNBC that the EU is “far behind” China and the US in the AI ​​race.

“I find it quite difficult to understand how introducing highly complex, high-profile AI regulations in a niche market will really affect the evolution of ‘AI’ around the world,” he said.

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