Europe’s data protection authority has issued a call to increase the protection of “fundamental rights”.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) issued an opinion on 13 October 2022 welcoming the opening of negotiations for a Council of Europe convention on artificial intelligence, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The EDPS said it “considers the Convention as an important opportunity to complement the European Commission’s proposed Artificial Intelligence Act by strengthening the protection of individuals’ fundamental rights, such as the rights to privacy and to the protection of personal data.”

The Convention is an opportunity to develop the first legally binding international instrument on artificial intelligence according to EU standards and values on human rights, democracy and the rule of law”, supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski said. “To achieve this, the Convention should include appropriate, strong and clear safeguards to protect individuals who may be affected by the use of AI systems”.

EDPS issues clear recommendations

To this end, the EPDS made several key recommendations on the EU’s negotiating directives for the Convention. The general objectives should prioritise the safeguards and rights to be provided to individuals and groups of individuals that may be impacted by the use of AI systems, according to the EDPS. To ensure the protection of individuals and their rights, the negotiating directives “should aim for consistency of the Convention with the EU’s existing legal framework on data protection”, the EDPS wrote.

“The EDPS is of the opinion that AI systems that pose unacceptable risks to individuals should be prohibited. More specifically, the use of AI should be prohibited by default for the social scoring of individuals; biometric identification of individuals in publically accessible spaces; the categorisation of individuals on the basis of their biometric data (e.g. their ethnicity) and the categorisation of individuals according to their perceived emotions. These conditions should also be explicitly included in the negotiating directives.”

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