EU clinches deal on landmark AI Act - reaction


Artificial Intelligence words are seen in this illustration taken March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

STOCKHOLM/LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) -European Union policymakers on Friday agreed a provisional deal on landmark rules governing the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

They include the use by governments of AI in biometric surveillance and how to regulate AI systems such as ChatGPT.

Here is some reaction to the deal:

Svenja Hahn, German MEP and shadow rapporteur for the European AI Act, on behalf of the liberal Renew Europe group:

"In 38 hours of negotiations over three days we were able to prevent massive overregulation of AI innovation and safeguard rule of law principles in the use of AI in law enforcement.

"We succeeded in preventing biometric mass surveillance. Despite an uphill battle over several days of negotiations, it was not possible to achieve a complete ban on real-time biometric identification against the massive headwind from the member states.

"They wanted to use biometric surveillance as unregulated as possible. Only the German government had called for a ban."

Fritz-Ulli Pieper, a specialist in IT law at Taylor Wessing:

"Many points still to be further worked on in technical trilogue. No one knows how the final wording will look like and if or how you can really push current agreement in a final law text. The devil will be in the detail of the final text.

"There are many areas where they had to make amends. For example, GenAI models are still in scope, but more limited and graded than initially. Or exceptions for open source, but with transparency and copyright obligations.

"In the end, this is very usual and necessary for results in highly controversial negotiations: that the outcome strikes a balance in both directions."

Matteo Quarttrocchi, director of EMEA policy at BSA, which represents tech companies:

"Those technical details will be fundamental for how AI is developed and deployed in the EU.

"AI uptake in Europe is going to be instrumental to growth and innovation, and ensuring a balanced AI legislative framework that promotes responsible technology and protects citizens' rights is of the utmost importance."

Alexandra van Huffelen, Dutch minister of digitalisation:

"Dealing with AI means fairly distributing the opportunities and the risks. AI is set to play a major role in many of the sectors in which the Netherlands excels, such as agriculture, education, health care and peace and security.

"I'm extremely pleased with this European outline agreement. We must nonetheless remain vigilant in respect of both the opportunities and the risks around the use of AI and enforcement of the rules."

Daniel Friedlaender, head of the European office of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, a tech industry lobby group:

"Last night's political deal marks the beginning of important and necessary technical work on crucial details of the AI Act, which are still missing.

"Regrettably, speed seems to have prevailed over quality, with potentially disastrous consequences for the European economy. The negative impact could be felt far beyond the AI sector alone."

Kim van Sparrentak, a Dutch MEP who worked closely on the draft AI rules:

"Europe chooses its own path and does not follow the Chinese surveillance state.

"After a huge battle with the EU countries, we have restricted the use of these types of systems. In a free and democratic society you should be able to walk on the street without the government constantly following you on the street, at festivals or in football stadiums."

Daniel Leufer, senior policy analyst at non-profit group, Access Now, which defends digital rights of people and communities at risk:

"Whatever the victories may have been in these final negotiations, the fact remains that huge flaws will remain in this final text: loopholes for law enforcement, lack of protection in the migration context, opt-outs for developers and big gaps in the bans on the most dangerous AI systems."

Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF):

"Given how rapidly AI is developing, EU lawmakers should have hit pause on any legislation until they better understand what exactly it is they are regulating. There is likely an equal, if not greater, risk of unintended consequences from poorly conceived legislation than there is from poorly conceived technology. And unfortunately, fixing technology is usually much easier than fixing bad laws.

"The EU should focus on winning the innovation race, not the regulation race. AI promises to open a new wave of digital progress in all sectors of the economy. But it is not operating without constraints.

"Existing laws and regulations apply, and it is still too soon to know exactly what new rules may be necessary. EU policymakers should re-read the tale of the tortoise and the hare. Acting quickly may give the illusion of progress, but it does not guarantee success."

Enza Iannopollo, analyst at Forrester, a research and advisory group:

"Despite the criticism, this is good news for businesses and society. For businesses, it starts providing companies with a solid framework for the assessment and mitigation of risks, that -- if unchecked -- could hurt customers and curtail businesses' ability to benefit from their investments in the technology. And for society, it helps protect people from potential, detrimental outcomes."

Steffi Lemke, German Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection:

"With the European AI Regulation, we are protecting consumers from risks of the new technology. During the negotiations, we were particularly committed to ensuring that AI systems are transparent, comprehensible and verifiable.

"In future, companies that offer the use of AI technologies will have to provide information on how their systems work and explain AI-based decisions. It is also particularly important to me that consumer rights are strengthened: In the event of infringements, consumer associations will be able to take legal action.

"The new regulation is important so that we can keep up with the rapid pace of technological development in order to protect people's rights."

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm, Martin Coulter in London and Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; Compiled by Josephine Mason; Editing by Clelia Oziel, Mark Potter and Mike Harrison)

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