European Council approves 'risk-based' AI regulations

The European Council voted Tuesday to approve new rules for using artificial intelligence. File Photo by Will Oliver/EPA-EFE

May 21 (UPI) -- The European Council gave final clearance Tuesday far a "risk-based approach" for regulating the use of artificial intelligence.

Under the Artificial Intelligence Act, the bloc will gauge use of AI, with higher risk implementations facing stricter rules.

The act was described as a "first of its kind" standard, which the European Union said would encourage "safe and trustworthy" AI systems across the market in public and private sectors.

Mathieu Michel, the Belgian secretary of state for digitalization, administrative simplification, privacy, protection and building regulation, called the legislation a "milestone" in shaping how AI should be used and creating guardrails around it.

"With the AI act, Europe emphasizes the importance of trust, transparency and accountability when dealing with new technologies while at the same time ensuring this fast-changing technology can flourish and boost European innovation," Michel said.

The council noted that systems, including cognitive behavioral manipulation and social scoring, will be banned, along with using AI for predictive policing based on profiling and systems using biometric data to categorize people based on race, religion or sexual orientation due to "unacceptable levels" of risk.

The law provides exemptions such as systems used exclusively for military or defense use, as well as research.

The council's vote Tuesday follows the approval by the European Parliament in March, which also overwhelmingly passed the act.

The new law calls for the establishment of a new AI office to enforce the act's rules across the EU, a scientific panel on independent experts to support the enforcement, an AI board with representatives from member states advising and assisting the European Commission on the act, and an advisory forum for stakeholders to provide technical expertise.

The legislation, with signatures from the European Parliament and European Council, will be published in the EU's Official Journal and become enforceable 20 days after that.