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EU plans ban on AI for mass surveillance, social credit scores

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As artificial intelligence (Ai) technology gets all-pervasive, the European Union is considering a ban on the use of AI for mass surveillance and social credit scores, among other applications.

The leaked draft proposal, first reported by Politico and is expected to be made official next week, would see the EU take a strong stance on certain applications of AI, similar to the EU’s regulation of digital privacy under the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), reports The Verge.

According to the draft, a ban on AI is needed for “indiscriminate surveillance,” including systems that directly track individuals in physical environments or aggregate data from other sources.

It also seeks a ban on AI systems that create social credit scores, which means judging someone’s trustworthiness based on social behavior or predicted personality traits.

The draft proposal seeks ban on special authorisation for using “remote biometric identification systems” like facial recognition in public spaces and asks for notifications when people interact with an AI system, unless this is “obvious from the circumstances and the context of use”.

The key section of the document is Article 4, which prohibits certain uses of AI, including mass surveillance and social credit scores.

The EU proposal also demands new oversight for “high-risk” AI systems, including those that pose a direct threat to safety, like self-driving cars, and those that have a high chance of affecting someone’s livelihood, like those used for job hiring, judiciary decisions, and credit scoring.

The proposal, however, drew some criticism too on social media.

Omer Tene, vice president of nonprofit International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) said on Twitter that the regulation “represents the typical Brussels approach to new tech and innovation. When in doubt, regulate.”

“The key provision of the Reg is Article 4, which defines ‘prohibited AI practices’. It will cause great consternation because it’s vague and potentially all encompassing,” Tene commented.


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