EU Passes First Comprehensive Global AI Regulations

The European Union has made a significant move in the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. After extensive deliberations that spanned nearly three years from the initial draft proposal, the European Parliament has approved what is considered to be the world’s first comprehensive set of AI regulations. 


This legislative milestone was reached following a decisive vote where 523 members were in favor, 46 against, and 49 abstained. The essence of these regulations is to safeguard fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law, and environmental sustainability against the risks posed by high-risk AI applications, while simultaneously fostering innovation and positioning Europe as a global leader in this domain.


This legislative framework, known as the AI Act, aims to meticulously outline the obligations of AI applications in relation to their potential risks and impacts. It is not yet law but is currently being scrutinized with formal endorsement by the European Council pending. However, its enactment is anticipated before the close of the current legislative term, which precedes the forthcoming parliamentary elections in early June. 


Once enacted, most provisions of the AI Act will take effect after 24 months, while bans on prohibited applications will be implemented in just six months. The AI Act specifically aims to prohibit the use of biometric categorization systems that rely on sensitive characteristics, and the mass scraping of facial images from CCTV footage and online platforms to create facial recognition databases, targeting activities similar to those carried out by Clearview AI among others. This decisive action underscores the EU’s commitment to protecting citizens’ rights in the face of evolving AI technologies.