Artificial Intelligence (AI) is having an ever-greater impact on everyday consumer life. Consumer-friendly regulation of AI has thus become an urgent matter. The European Parliament adopted a negotiating position on the AI Act in Brussels on 14 June 2023. Regarding the upcoming trilogue negotiations, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband – vzbv) calls for the AI Act to grant consumers strong rights with respect to AI operators.
Ramona Pop, Executive Director of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations, says:
AI-based systems, such as ChatGPT, are already influencing consumer decisions. The planned European AI Act must ensure strong consumer rights and the possibility of independent auditing in order to eliminate risks such as manipulation, unfair treatment, and discrimination on the part of AI systems.
It is important that the law-makers ensure consumers have individual rights, such as the right to an explanation, with respect to AI operators. It is the only way consumers can protect themselves against unfair treatment – for example, by being able to ask what personal data has been used. Qualified entities must also be able to enforce consumer rights in the case of non-compliance with the AI Act, so that consumers are not left to deal with the situation on their own. In addition, independent experts must conduct risk assessments of AI systems. This establishes trust.
We welcome the fact that the European Parliament has adopted a negotiating stance which includes rules for AI foundation models, as these form the basis for applications such as ChatGPT, which pose a high risk of misleading consumers. The Council of Ministers and the European Commission must adopt the Parliament’s consumer-friendly proposals in the upcoming negotiations.
Many Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems such as ChatGPT are not adequately regulated. They enter the market without an impact assessment by independent third parties, government checks, or any particular monitoring.
The process of negotiating a legal framework for AI, the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act), has been ongoing in Brussels since April 2021. The purpose of the AI Act is to define rules and quality requirements for providers of AI systems. The broad debate surrounding ChatGPT has also focused attention on AI regulation at the European level. ChatGPT shows the risks that AI can pose to consumers.
The Council of Ministers of the European Union adopted a position on the AI Act on 6 December 2022. The European Parliament followed on 14 June. The trilogue negotiations between Council, Parliament, and Commission have already begun.