The Corporate Europe Observatory has revealed how major technology companies have sought to influence the EU’s first Artificial Intelligence legislation still under discussion, including reducing security obligations and marginalizing human rights concerns.
In April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first legislation in the European Union, and also the first worldwide on Artificial Intelligence. However, “tech giants have been engaged in a fierce lobbying battle to safeguard themselves from any liability,” warns the Corporate Europe Observatory.
The release of ChatGPT in November last year, which triggered a worldwide debate on the implications of AI, has increased pressure from tech giants.
In a press release, the Corporate Europe Observatory warns that “AI systems, however, present great risks.”
“AI systems often do not work as intended or can be inexplicable. They can discriminate based on gender, disability, or race. The potential to exacerbate inequality has been criticized by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” writes the non-governmental organization (NGO) denouncing business lobbying pressures on EU policy.
The Corporate Europe Observatory also notes the lack of transparency in the drafting process of the legislation, and the primacy given to lobbyists.
“Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have used secret groups, expert-funded technicians, and normalization bodies to pressure European institutions, an effort that has taken years and seems likely to be successful as the bill reaches its final phase,” the NGO said.
In its report, the Corporate Europe Observatory documents more than 1,000 lobbying meetings with members of the European Parliament, 56% of which are with the industry and interest groups.
The first-ever AI law proposed by the European Commission aims to ensure that AI systems used in the EU respect fundamental rights and European values, and are transparent and accountable. The legislation also establishes a risk-based approach, focusing on the harm caused by AI applications.
The Corporate Europe Observatory report shows how the tech industry’s lobbying efforts could undermine human rights and increase discrimination, highlighting the need for strong regulatory measures.
The European Parliament is expected to vote on the AI legislation in 2023, after which it will enter into force. The EU’s AI legislation could set a global standard, given the size of the EU market and its regulatory influence.