EU tech plans may include compliance checks for biometric systems

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A top European Union official will present the bloc’s plan for competing with the U.S. and China on advanced technologies, including new rules for AI, and possibly compliance checks of biometric systems by public authorities and legislation for gate-keeper platforms, Bloomberg Quint reports.

Margrethe Vestager is executive vice president of the European Commission for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, and will share the plans, which may also include steps to make data centers carbon-neutral and incentives for business to share certain types of information to help innovation. At a press conference, she announced the changes are expected to increase the development and deployment of AI on the continent, but in accord with European standards for privacy and equality.

The plan is expected to attempt to address transparency concerns and ensure humans are in positions of oversight, particularly of high-stakes applications.

Companies offering facial recognition may be forced to either prove that their technology was developed in accord with European values, or retrain them with European data sets.

Vestager says the release of a white paper on AI is intended to convene a social debate on the circumstances that would justify the deployment of remote facial recognition technology. One possible approach to governing the technology is creating a regional legal framework for facial biometrics.

The plan will be presented on Wednesday, and be followed by a 12-week public consultation period, with the commission proposing legislation possibly by the end of the year.

European rules on tech, such as GDPR, have in some cases had an effect beyond the region.

”EU regulation in this area is likely to have an effect similar to GDPR. People outside Europe are watching the commission,” University of Vienna Professor of Philosophy of Media and Technology Mark Coeckelbergh told Quint. “This is a chance for the EU to set an example of regulation that supports ethical development of AI.”

Antitrust rules are also expected to be reviewed, with new rules on “gate-keeping platforms” allowing the EU new regulatory powers over big tech companies. Pooled data, meanwhile, could supply training data for European companies to develop robust algorithms with, according to the plan.

The EU has been reported to be considering a ban on facial recognition in public spaces, though such a drastic measure is considered unlikely at this time.

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