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Covering Artificial Intelligence in Europe

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Policy, Strategy and Regulation

Final round for the Data Governance Act

The Council of the European Union approved the Data Governance Act. This new regulation introduces mechanisms for the use of data in public databases that are otherwise protected by confidentiality and data privacy requirements, or intellectual property rights. Such use will be subject to various conditions, in particular with regard to the essence (personal vs. non-personal), protection and sensitivity (health, financial, transportation, etc.) of the data. Research data may be accessed only if handled by a public body and as part of its public tasks. The transfer and use of data to countries outside of the EU would effectively be constrained by the requirements for adequate level of protection in these countries.

The Data Governance Act also introduces harmonised requirements for the provisions of data sharing services (the so-called “data intermediation”). Most notable from an AI perspective is the obligation for data intermediaries to take “reasonable” measures for ensuring interoperability between their intermediation services (e.g. by implementing common standards to be adopted by a new EU institution, the European Data Innovation Board). The Data Governance Act also governs the voluntary provision of personal and non-personal data by individuals and entities (the so-called “data altruism”), and its use for objectives of general interest (e.g. healthcare, combating climate change, improving mobility). It is expected to enter into force in the coming months and to become effective in the second half of the year 2023.  

Notes in the Margins: The Data Governance Act is intended to facilitate the access to large sets of structured data (via public databases) and the creation of large-size data pools (through data intermediation and data altruism). If successful, such endeavor would also support AI developers’ efforts to meet the data governance requirements under the AI Act, in particular regarding completeness and representativeness of training, validation and testing data.  Last month, the European Commission also published a proposal for setting up a European Health Data Space.

And.. final lap for the Machinery Regulation 2021

The draft European Union Regulation on machinery products (the so-called “Machinery Regulation 2021”) advances through the legislative process at the European Union institutions.  Earlier in June, the Plenary of the European Parliament gave green light to entering into interinstitutional negotiations with the Council and the European Commission on the draft proposal. This opens the way for the three institutions to discuss the amendments to the Machinery Regulation 2021 that the European Parliament proposes and to reach an agreement on suggested or compromise texts.

The Machinery Regulation 2021 will apply to machinery products that incorporate AI systems (but for certain exceptions, such as vehicles solely intended for transportation of people or goods). The machinery products as a whole would need to meet the health and safety requirements of the Machinery Regulation 2021, while their AI components would have to meet the requirements also of the AI Act, where appropriate. AI-based software ensuring safety functions and machinery embedding AI systems ensuring safety functions are considered as high-risk products and would need to undergo conformity assessments under the Machinery Regulation 2021 In this way, that Machinery Regulation 2021 would effectively complement the AI Act in its application to machinery products with AI components.

Notes in the Margins: The Machinery Regulation 2021 will aim to address the potential risks that originate from: (i) machine learning applications, (ii) autonomous machines, (iii) direct human-robot collaboration (such as collaborative robots (“co-bots”), (iv) connected machinery (e.g. as part of Internet of Things ecosystem), and (v) software updates and their effect on the performance of machinery already placed on the market. The Regulation will replace Directive 2006/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 on machinery currently in force.


Cooperation on privacy-enhancing technologies

The U.K. and U.S. governments are jointly developing prize challenges intended to advance the maturity of privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs), according to a press release by the UK’s Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI). The prize challenges will aim at generating innovative PET-based solutions for combating global financial crime. They are expected to contribute also to the wider adoption of PET, including by facilitating participants’ engagement with U.K. and U.S. regulators on points of PET’s regulatory implications and associated uncertainties.

The PET prize challenges form part of a broader set of efforts by the U.K. government (see below) to enable trustworthy use of data and to unlock its value across the economy. The European Union has been working along similar lines. In the past years, it has introduced common rules, standards and infrastructure for the exchange of transportation data (the so-called “European mobility data space”).

Notes in the Margins: Last week, the U.K. has announced several policy initiatives in implementation of its National Data Strategy. The Ministry of Defence has released its Defence AI Strategy and a policy statement detailing its approach to ensuring safe and responsible AI. The CDEI has also announced its work programme for responsible access data. Those developments come at a time when the cooperation between the EU and the U.S. within the Tech and Trade Council with respect to AI appears to intensify as well (see our summary here).

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Dessislava Fessenko provided research and editorial support. 
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Disclaimer: this newsletter is personal opinion only and does not represent the opinion of any organisation.

Copyright © Charlotte Stix, All rights reserved.
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