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AI Act: EU countries agree to regulate artificial intelligence

The countries of the European Union have spoken out in favor of comprehensive rules for artificial intelligence. The permanent representatives of the member states in Brussels approved the AI law, as EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton announced on X. Breton called the agreement historic.

Due to concerns in Germany and France, among others, the decision had been on the rocks for weeks. Now all that remains is for the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to give their final approval.

“The AI regulation is intended to ensure that we leverage the enormous potential of AI in Europe and at the same time take risks into account,” said Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck. This balance has been achieved with the AI Act.

Ban on biometric mass surveillance

Negotiators from the member states and the European Parliament had already agreed in principle on the AI regulation in December. In the future, developers will have to clearly label texts, sounds and images generated with artificial intelligence in order not to mislead people. Further regulations should apply to “high-risk” applications, such as facial recognition in security authorities. Mass surveillance with biometric data, as in China, is fundamentally prohibited.

In Germany, the traffic light parties had only agreed to approve the AI regulation a few days before the vote in Brussels. The FDP had raised concerns about the law after concerns were expressed by business that the AI Act could contain too strict requirements for companies.

Digital association Bitkom appeals to EU member states

In the future, the regulation will classify AI applications into different risk classes. Providers must meet security and transparency requirements appropriate to the respective classes. According to experts, the regulations could become a model for laws in other countries. It would be an alternative to the more relaxed rules that apply in the USA – and the more restrictive requirements in China.

The digital association Bitkom has concerns. The European AI law alone does not guarantee legal certainty for companies, said Bitkom board member Susanne Dehmel. Rather, “what matters is a practicable interpretation and application of the requirements in the EU member states”. Only if bureaucratic hurdles and unwanted interactions with existing laws were avoided could European companies assert themselves in global AI competition.

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