EUNET in the Committee on Human Rights and Artificial Intelligence

The European Commission has prepared draft directives on digital markets (DMA) and digital services (DSA). The European Parliament is seeking to refine the proposed rules. The Council of Ministers will clarify the need for regulation from the member states’ perspective in the coming months.

While the idea of a necessary regulation is hardly controversial, its aims remain open to discussion: will it form a tight corset in which companies can only move in the specified way – or will it merely be a safeguard that only slightly corrects the existing development. Will Google have the freedom to tailor advertising to the user who visits its search engine; will Facebook be able to merge its data with that of WhatsApp; will Amazon be able to take over the products with the best results on its third-party marketplace; will Apple be able to continue to ban third-party app shops on its mobile phones.

Another question to be answered is whether the regulation should only affect the very large US platforms or also many other European portals. European governments may prefer to protect European companies by limiting regulation to a limited set of platforms.

Both the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have noted that artificial intelligence (AI) is crucial to the future of humanity and have expressed concern about the poorly understood impact of the increasing use of AI on humans and the functioning of our societies.

The generalisation of AI-based technologies requires us to question the positive and/or negative impact of the way algorithms are constructed and the impact of AI use on the functioning of institutions, on democratic processes and on people’s social and political behaviour.

The use of AI by some governments or large private internet actors can weaken the rule of law and democracy by calling into question the existence of checks and balances and the independence of the judiciary. AI can increase the spread of misinformation, conspiracy theories and racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic hate speech and discrimination, especially through social networks.

In this context, non-governmental organisations that are members of the Council of Europe’s Conference of INGOs and represent organised civil society are participating in the reflection that is taking place both in the European Union and in the Council of Europe. EUNET, which actively participates in the Committee on Human Rights and Artificial Intelligence, will host a webinar on the state of the art in artificial intelligence and human rights protection on 21 September 2021.