European Commission draft white paper on AI regulatory options leaked amid criticism over EU funding of 'questionable' AI projects

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Article
6 February 2020

EU Parliament says it will not use facial recognition technology following criticism over leaked internal memo discussing use in security

Author: Jennifer Rankin, The Guardian

"European parliament says it will not use facial recognition tech", 5 Feb 2020

The European parliament has insisted it has no plans to introduce facial recognition technology after a leaked internal memo discussing its use in security provoked an outcry.

A page on the European parliament’s intranet, seen by the Guardian, suggested that facial recognition could be used “in the context of biometric-based security and services to members [MEPs]”...

The incident is an embarrassment for the parliament, coming shortly before the EU executive is expected to announce a temporary ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public places.

The European commission is expected to announce the ban this month, covering the use of the technology in stations, stadiums and shopping centres and lasting three to five years, to allow regulators time to assess the impact of the fast-developing technology...

The page was removed shortly after the complaints emerged. A spokesperson said the complaint referred to “an old and outdated draft version” of “an exploratory project” that had been “misplaced on the intranet of the EP”...

“Data protection is and remains a clear priority of the European parliament and its administration.” 

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Article
22 January 2020

Commentary: The EU is funding dystopian Artificial Intelligence projects

Author: Daniel Leufer and Fieke Jansen, Euractiv

Despite its commitment to ‘trustworthy’ artificial intelligence, [...] journalists and NGOs have shown that imperfect and ethically questionable AI systems such as facial recognition, fraud detection and smart (a.k.a surveillance) cities, are also in use across Europe...

[T]he Commission is investing in the development of AI systems through funding programs...

According to last week’s leaked white paper on AI regulation, there are plans to increase this funding...

Amid this proliferation, some EU residents might be comforted by the Commission’s stated commitment to ‘Trustworthy AI,’ most notably through its Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI and the potential influence they might have on the fabled ‘AI Regulation’ promised to come in the first 100 days of the new Commission mandate...

Despite the EU’s commitment to ‘trustworthy’ AI sounding noble, the history of technological investments made under Horizon 2020 casts doubt on these intentions...

[T]he EU spent €4.5 million on a project that ‘detects’ whether a visitor to the continent is lying or not by asking them 13 questions in front of a webcam...

[T]he SEWA project [...] received €3.6 million to develop technology that can read the depths of human sentiment and emotions ‘in the wild’ — for the ultimate purpose of more effectively marketing products to consumers using an ad recommendation engine...

Going forward, the EU must stand behind their commitment to ‘trustworthy’ AI...

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Article
17 January 2020

Commission considers facial recognition ban in AI 'white paper'

Author: Samuel Stolton, Euractiv

The European Commission is considering measures to impose a temporary ban on facial recognition technologies used by both public and private actors, according to a draft white paper on Artificial Intelligence...

More generally, the draft White Paper, the completed version of which the Commission should publish towards the end of February, features five regulatory options for Artificial Intelligence across the bloc.

The different regulatory branches considered by the Commission in the paper are:

- Voluntary labelling

- Sectorial requirements for public administration and facial recognition

- Mandatory risk-based requirements for high-risk applications

- Safety and liability

- Governance...

As for facial recognition, the Commission document highlights provisions from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which give citizens “the right not to be subject of a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling.”

In the third area which the Commission is currently priming for regulation, legally binding instruments would apply only “to highrisk applications of artificial intelligence...

Certain sectors which could be considered high risk include healthcare, transport, policing and the judiciary...

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Article
17 January 2020

EU lawmakers are eyeing risk-based rules for AI, per leaked white paper

Author: Natasca Lomas, TechCrunch

The European Commission  is considering a temporary ban on the use of facial recognition technology, according to a draft proposal for regulating artificial intelligence obtained by Euroactiv.

Creating rules to ensure AI is ‘trustworthy and human’ has been an early flagship policy promise of the new Commission...

The leaked Commission white paper floats the idea of a three-to-five-year period... — to give EU lawmakers time to devise ways to assess and manage risks around the use of the technology, such as to people’s privacy rights or the risk of discriminatory impacts from biased algorithms.

“This would safeguard the rights of individuals, in particular against any possible abuse of the technology,” the Commission writes, adding that: “It would be necessary to foresee some exceptions, notably for activities in the context of research and development and for security purposes.” ...

I would argue the GDPR in practice forbids facial recognition by private companies in a surveillance context without member states actively legislating an exemption into the law using their powers to derogate. However, the merchants of doubt at facial recognition firms wish to sow heavy uncertainty into that area of law to legitimise their businesses,” [Dr Michael Veale, a lecturer in digital rights and regulation at UCL said].

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