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New European AI Law would limit use of biometrics in security

Nueva Ley europea de IA limitaría uso de biometría en la seguridad

International. The electronic security industry is waiting for the progress in the European Parliament of a legislative process that would impose restrictions on the use of technologies such as facial recognition and Artificial Intelligence on European countries.

Specifically, the new regulation seeks to limit certain applications of Artificial Intelligence, such as biometric categorization systems based on some sensitive characteristics of people and the capture of facial images from the internet or surveillance camera recordings to create facial recognition databases.

It also regulates the recognition of people's emotions in their workplace and in schools, citizen scoring systems, predictive policing (when it is based solely on a person's profile or the assessment of their characteristics) and AI that conditions human behavior or certain vulnerable characteristics of people.

The use of biometric identification systems by law enforcement agencies is limited a priori, except in specific situations. "Real-time" biometric identification systems can only be used if strict safeguards are met; for example, if its use is limited to a specific period and place and there is judicial or administrative authorization.

- Publicidad -

These exceptions include the targeted search for a missing person or the prevention of a terrorist attack. However, the European Parliament made it clear that resorting to these systems a posteriori is considered a high-risk use that requires judicial authorisation as it is linked to a criminal offence.

Obligations are also foreseen for AI systems with uses considered by the new Law as high risk. Parliament noted that this includes certain uses related to critical infrastructure, education and vocational training, employment, essential public and private services (e.g. health, banking), certain law enforcement systems, migration and customs management, justice and democratic processes.

These systems must assess and mitigate risks, maintain usage records, be transparent and accurate, and have human oversight. Citizens shall have the right to lodge complaints about AI systems and to receive explanations for decisions based on them that affect their rights.

In compliance with the new Artificial Intelligence Act, general-purpose AI systems and the models on which they are based must comply with certain transparency requirements, respect EU copyright law, and publish detailed summaries of the content used to train their models.

More powerful models that could pose systemic risks will need to meet additional requirements, such as evaluating models, analyzing and mitigating systemic risks, and reporting on incidents. In addition, artificial or manipulated images, audio or video content referred to as "deep-fakes" must be clearly labelled as such.

In the regulation, the European Parliament raises the need to make available to SMEs and start-ups testing and testing spaces in real conditions so that they can develop and train innovative AI before it is commercialised.

In this regard, the co-rapporteur of the Internal Market committee, Brando Benifei, (S&D, Italy) said: "We finally have the world's first binding law on Artificial Intelligence, to reduce risks, create opportunities, combat discrimination and bring transparency. Thanks to Parliament, unacceptable AI practices will be banned in Europe and the rights of workers and citizens will be protected. The new AI Office will help companies comply with the rules before they come into force."

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In turn, the co-rapporteur of the Civil Liberties committee, Dragos Tudorache, (Renew, Romania) added: "AI will push us to rethink the social contract at the heart of our democracies, our education models, labour markets and the way we conduct war. The AI Act is a starting point for a new governance model built around technology."

The new rules had been agreed with member states in December 2023 and this week was backed by the European Parliament with 523 votes in favour, 46 against and 49 abstentions.

According to the agency, the aim of this initiative "is to protect fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law and environmental sustainability in the face of high-risk AI, while boosting innovation and establishing Europe as an industry leader".

Next Steps
The Artificial Intelligence Act is still subject to a final legal-linguistic check. It is expected to be definitively adopted (through the so-called corrigendum procedure) before the end of the current parliamentary term. The law must also be formally adopted by the Council.

Once this occurs, the Law will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Gazette and will be fully applicable twenty-four months after its entry into force, with the exception of: prohibitions on practices (to apply six months after the date of entry into force); codes of practice (nine months later); rules on general-purpose AI, including governance (12 months later), and obligations for high-risk systems 36 months later).

Álvaro León Pérez Sepúlveda
Author: Álvaro León Pérez Sepúlveda
Editor - Latin Press, Inc.
Comunicador Social Periodista egresado de la Universidad de Antioquia, con más de 14 años de experiencia en medios periodísticos y proyectos de comunicación digital. [email protected]

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