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Governments taken by surprise, race to regulate AI tools

file photo: illustration shows artificial intelligence words

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) such as Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s ChatGPT are complicating governments’ efforts to agree on laws governing the use of the technology.

Here are the latest steps national and international governing bodies are taking to regulate AI tools:

AUSTRALIA

* Seeking input on regulations
The government is consulting Australia’s main science advisory body and is considering next steps, a spokesperson for the industry and science minister said in April.

BRITAIN

* Planning regulations
The Financial Conduct Authority, one of several state regulators that has been tasked with drawing up new guidelines covering AI, is consulting with the Alan Turing Institute and other legal and academic institutions to improve its understanding of the technology, a spokesperson told Reuters.
Britain’s competition regulator said on May 4 it would start examining the impact of AI on consumers, businesses and the economy and whether new controls were needed.
Britain said in March it planned to split responsibility for governing AI between its regulators for human rights, health and safety, and competition, rather than creating a new body.

CHINA

* Planning regulations

China’s cyberspace regulator in April unveiled draft measures to manage generative AI services, saying it wanted firms to submit security assessments to authorities before they launch offerings to the public.
Beijing will support leading enterprises in building AI models that can challenge ChatGPT, its economy and information technology bureau said in February.

EUROPEAN UNION

* Planning regulations

The U.S. and EU should push the AI industry to adopt a voluntary code of conduct within months to provide safeguards while new laws are developed, EU tech chief Margrethe Vestager said on May 31. Vestager said she believed a draft could be drawn up “within the next weeks”, with a final proposal for industry to sign up “very, very soon”.
Key EU lawmakers on May 11 agreed on tougher draft rules to rein in generative AI and proposed a ban on facial surveillance. The European Parliament will vote on the draft of the EU’s AI Act in June.
EU lawmakers had reached a preliminary deal in April on the draft that could pave the way for the world’s first comprehensive laws governing the technology. Copyright protection is central to the bloc’s effort to keep AI in check.
The European Data Protection Board, which unites Europe’s national privacy watchdogs, set up a task force on ChatGPT in April.
The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) has joined in the concern about ChatGPT and other AI chatbots, calling on EU consumer protection agencies to investigate the technology and the potential harm to individuals.

FRANCE

* Investigating possible breaches

France’s privacy watchdog CNIL said in April it was investigating several complaints about ChatGPT after the chatbox was temporarily banned in Italy over a suspected breach of privacy rules.

France’s National Assembly approved in March the use of AI video surveillance during the 2024 Paris Olympics, overlooking warnings from civil rights groups.

IRELAND

* Seeking input on regulations

Generative AI needs to be regulated, but governing bodies must work out how to do so properly before rushing into prohibitions that “really aren’t going to stand up”, Ireland’s data protection chief said in April.

ITALY

* Investigating possible breaches

Italy’s data protection authority Garante plans to review other artificial intelligence platforms and hire AI experts, a top official said on May 22.

ChatGPT became available again to users in Italy in April after being temporarily banned over concerns by the national data protection authority in March.

SPAIN

* Investigating possible breaches

Spain’s data protection agency said in April it was launching a preliminary investigation into potential data breaches by ChatGPT. It has also asked the EU’s privacy watchdog to evaluate privacy concerns surrounding ChatGPT, the agency told Reuters in April.

JAPAN

* Investigating possible breaches

Japan’s privacy watchdog said on June 2 it has warned OpenAI not to collect sensitive data without people’s permission and to minimise the sensitive data it collects, adding it may take further action if it has more concerns.

USA

* Seeking input on regulations

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s chief said on May 3 the agency was committed to using existing laws to keep in check some of the dangers of AI, such as enhancing the power of dominant firms and “turbocharging” fraud.

Senator Michael Bennet introduced a bill in April that would create a task force to look at U.S. policies on AI, and identify how best to reduce threats to privacy, civil liberties and due process.

The Biden administration had earlier in April said it was seeking public comments on potential accountability measures for AI systems.

President Joe Biden has also told science and technology advisers that AI could help to address disease and climate change, but it was also important to address potential risks to society, national security and the economy.

G7

* Seeking input on regulations
Group of Seven leaders meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, acknowledged on May 20 the need for governance of AI and immersive technologies and agreed to have ministers discuss the technology as the “Hiroshima AI process” and report results by the end of 2023.
G7 nations should adopt “risk-based” regulation on AI, G7 digital ministers said after a meeting in April in Japan.

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