European data governance through regulations and management

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In mid-December 2023, the EU institutions have reached an agreement on the EU-wide rules governing the use of artificial intelligence (AI), as well as regulations some issues concerning digital platforms’ use in government service, in bio-metric and medical surveillance, etc. Managing other AI’s applications, such as ChatGPT and “big data” platforms are subject to the Union’s regulations too. 

  Initial steps in regulating the EU-wide digital agenda date back to May 2017, when the Commission published a mid-term review of the Digital Single Market strategy, which highlighted the importance of building the regional digital sphere based on Europe’s scientific and industrial strengths, as well as on its innovative startups. The ultimate idea was to acquire for the EU a leading position in the development of AI technologies, digital platforms, and applications in the world.
On the communication in: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM%3A2018%3A237%3AFIN

  Artificial intelligence (AI), as commonly understood the EU-wide, refers to digital systems that display intelligent behavior by analysing the world-wide data, processing them and “delivers” these “actions” – with a certain degree of independence – to specific customers with numerous requirements. AI-based digital platforms and applications systems can have varied “forms”: e.g. purely software-based, acting in the virtual world (e.g. voice assistants, image analysis software, search engines, speech and face recognition systems) and/or be embedded in hardware devices, e.g. advanced robots, autonomous cars, drones and/or Internet of Things, IoT applications.

  Already in October 2017 the European Council stated that the EU member states had to urgently address emerging digital trends such as AI “while at the same time ensuring a high level of data protection, digital rights and ethical standards”. Besides, the Council recommended the Commission “to put forward a European approach to artificial intelligence”. According to the Council’s initiative, the European Parliament adopted wide-ranging recommendations on civil law rules on robotics; the European Economic and Social Committee has followed the suite with the opinion on the topic.
Sources: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM:2017:228:FIN; and http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-14-2017-INIT/en/pdf.
More in: the European Parliament resolution with recommendations to the Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics (2015/2103(INL)); European Economic and Social Committee opinion on AI (INT/806-EESC-2016-05369-00-00-AC-TRA).

European AI Alliance
In 2018, the Commission has established European AI Alliance as an “an open policy dialogue on artificial intelligence”; since then, the alliance participated in over 6 thousand events, public consultations and online forum exchanges. The AI Alliance was initially created to steer the work of the High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI HLEG). The group’s ethics guidelines as well as its policy and investment recommendations were important documents that shaped the concept of “trustworthy AI” based on a mix of expert input and community driven feedback. After the AI HLEG’s mandate closed, the AI alliance community continued to promote AI’s trustworthy activity by sharing best practices among the members and by helping AI’s developers and stakeholders to apply key requirements, through the practical “assessment list for trustworthy AI”.
Reference to: https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/policies/european-ai-alliance

Recent decisions
Legal and management measures concerning AI shall be seen as an integral part of the EU-wide efforts to streamline the European digital service and digital market as a whole.
Following the political agreement reached by the EU co-legislators in April 2022, the Digital Service Act, DSA entered into force already in November 2022. The Digital Markets Act, DMA shall design a comprehensive EU framework to ensure safer and fairer European “digital space”.
More on DSA in: https://commission.europa.eu/strategy-and-policy/priorities-2019-2024/europe-fit-digital-age/digital-services-act_en

  These two measures – DMA and DSA – concerning both the digital services and the market also paved the way for the EU institutions and the member states’ legal and regulatory means on AI: through these measures the EU is going to become the first major world power in adopting legal rules on governing AI and its use.
However, there are two focal issues to resolve until the final decision on AI’s rules are made: on one side, as the European Commissioner Thierry Breton told a press conference: “Europe positioned itself as a pioneer, understanding the importance of its role as a global standard setter”. On another side, the final accord requires such platforms as ChatGPT and general purpose AI systems to comply with transparency obligations, which include agreements on technical rules to follow the EU copyright law and disseminating detailed summaries about the content used for training.
Some experts argue that “high-impact foundation models with systemic risk will have to conduct model evaluations, assess and mitigate systemic risks, conduct adversarial testing, report to the European Commission on serious incidents, ensure cybersecurity and report on their energy efficiency”.
Thus, e.g. the World Economic Forum underlined in mid-December 2023, that “governments could only use real-time biometric surveillance in public spaces in cases of victims of certain crimes, prevention of genuine, present, or foreseeable threats, such as terrorist attacks, and searches for people suspected of the most serious crimes”.
The agreement bans cognitive behavioral manipulation, the untargeted scrapping of facial images from the internet or social scoring and bio-metric categorization systems to infer political, religious, philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation and race. Consumers would have the right to launch complaints and receive meaningful explanations while fines for violations would range from €7.5 million or 1.5% of turnover to €35 million or 7% of global turnover.
Reference to: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/12/europe-landmark-ai-regulation-deal/

    Bottom line: there are the following main legal and executive measures, which represent the EU advances in the AI: a) the AI Act as the world’s first proposal for a legal framework regulating specific uses of AI; b) the Coordinated Plan on AI, which facilitates AIs strategic alignment, policy action and acceleration of investment; the two measures outline a European social-type approach to AI. that focuses on putting people first. The rules will ensure AI develops in a way that guarantees trust, safety and fundamental rights, while also promoting excellence in innovation.

AI in digital business
The digital transformation of businesses will depend on their ability to adopt new technologies rapidly and across the board, including in industrial and service ecosystems that are lagging behind. This will enable more efficient resource use, boost material productivity, and reduce vulnerability to supply shocks. SMEs play a central role in this process, not only because they represent the bulk of EU companies, but also because they are a critical source of innovation.
Truly functioning European single market should create favourable conditions for digital take-up, disruptive innovation, rapid-growth and scale-up.

  On “rules for dealing with artificial intelligence in companies”/May 2020 in:
https://ec.europa.eu/futurium/en/european-ai-alliance/rules-dealing-artificial-intelligence-companies.html

   As part of the European “digital compass”, main directions in the EU-wide digital business by 2030 shall include:
= the requirement that 75% of European enterprises would join cloud computing services, big data, and AI;
= more than 90% of SMES have reached at least basic level of digital intensity, and
= the number of European unicorns would be doubled.
Source: https://futurium.ec.europa.eu/en/digital-compass/digital-businesses

   Businesses in the EU states will have more data available to innovate as a result of the EU-wide data strategy. The European Commission published in February 2020 a report on Business-to-Government (B2G) data sharing. The report, coming from a high-level Expert Group, contains a set of policy, legal and funding recommendations that will contribute to making B2G data sharing in the public interest a scalable, responsible and sustainable practice in the EU.
In order to increase B2G-data sharing, experts advise to make data sharing in the EU easier by taking policy, legal and investment measures in three main areas:
a) governance of B2G data sharing in the member states through, e.g. putting in place national governance structures, setting up a recognized function (‘data stewards’) in public and private organisations and exploring the creation of a cross-EU regulatory framework.
b) introducing transparency, citizen engagement and ethics: e.g. such as making B2G data sharing more citizen-centric, developing ethical guidelines and investing in training and education.
c) using operational models, structures and technical tools: e.g. such as creating incentives for companies to share data, carrying out studies on the benefits of B2G data sharing and providing support to develop the technical infrastructure through the Horizon Europe and Digital Europe programs.
More in: https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/news/experts-say-privately-held-data-available-european-union-should-be-used-better-and-more
Additional information in: = European data strategy; = Report “Towards a European strategy on business-to-government data sharing for the public interest”, and = Commission communication on the European strategy for data.

  For example digital innovation hub in Latvia, which was created at the end of 2021, offers a set of support measures for SMEs to acquire knowledge on digital solutions and to improve problem-solving capabilities. Latvia is a country with very high-capacity broadband access in most of its regions but very low levels of digital skills.
These types of measures will contribute positively to entrepreneurs and citizens of national regions, mainly by changing the way of thinking and encouraging business innovation and technological transformation processes to be launched.
On the digital hub’s support for Latvian SMEs and entrepreneurship in: https://futurium.ec.europa.eu/en/digital-compass/digital-businesses/best-practice/video-latvia-digital-innovation-hub-smes

Data governance
The EU Data Governance Act adopted in 2022 is aimed to “enhance trust and fairness” as well as encourage businesses “to move to the data economy”. World-net data is regarded as an essential resource for economic growth, competitiveness, innovation, job creation and societal progress in general.
The European strategy for data aims at creating a single market for data that will ensure Europe’s global competitiveness and data sovereignty. Common European data spaces will ensure that more data becomes available for use in the economy and society, while keeping the companies and individuals who generate the data in control.
Data-driven innovation will bring benefits for companies and individuals by making lives and work more efficient through:
= health data: improving personalized treatments, providing better healthcare, and helping cure rare or chronic diseases, saving approximately €120 billion a year in the EU health sector and providing a more effective and quicker response to the global COVID-19 health crisis;
= mobility data: saving more than 27 million hours of public transport users’ time and up to €20 billion a year in labour costs of car drivers thanks to real-time navigation;
= environmental data: combating climate change, reducing CO₂ emissions and fighting emergencies, such as floods and wildfires;
= agricultural data: developing precision farming, new products in the agri-food sector and new services in general in rural areas;
= public administration data: delivering better and more reliable official statistics, and contributing to evidence-based decisions.

    Source: https://futurium.ec.europa.eu/en/digital-compass/digital-businesses/library-video/european-strategy-data-data-governance-act
More on Regulation 2022/868 adopted in May 2022 on European data governance, i.e. Data Governance Act in: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32022R0868

European Alliance for industrial data, edge and cloud
The Alliance brings together businesses, the member states representatives and relevant experts to foster the development and deployment of next generation edge and cloud technologies. It is aimed at strengthening the position of European industry on cloud and edge technologies. Besides, it is serving the needs of European businesses and member states’ public administrations that process sensitive categories of data, and has the objective to increase Europe’s leadership position on industrial data.
The European Alliance for industrial data builds on the European data strategy which was established in February 2020; its creation was endorsed by the European Council’s conclusions and the EU member states Declaration on European Cloud signed in October 2020.
More on EU data strategy in: https://commission.europa.eu/strategy-and-policy/priorities-2019-2024/europe-fit-digital-age/european-data-strategy_en

  Cloud and edge technologies serve as strategic innovation enablers for the uptake of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 5G, etc. They provide the infrastructure for highly innovative use: the EU member states have to use them actively in order to strengthen the continent’s industrial position in cloud and edge technologies; the latter are also among key enablers for European digital transformation.
In this sense, the Alliance aims to bring together relevant stakeholders from the private and public sector to jointly define strategic investment roadmaps to enable the next generation of highly secure, distributed, interoperable and resource-efficient computing technologies. In addition, the Alliance will serve as a platform for exchange on issues of cloud governance, for example relating to the public procurement of cloud services.
More on Alliance in: https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/policies/cloud-alliance
General reference on “digital decade” in: https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/policies

 

 

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