On 12 November 2020, German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Christine Anderson of the Identity and Democracy Group posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“A few days ago, the German Bundestag committee of inquiry on AI published an 800-page final report, the result of some two years’ work. The EU is not as far advanced, however, as the special committee on AI was established only a few weeks ago.
The US and China have already achieved many successes in the field of artificial intelligence, and the EU is now trying to catch up. Unfortunately, even Germany is lagging behind in this area, but still has a clear lead over the EU in terms of the practical approach to AI.
What practical steps does the Commission intend to take to ensure that the EU catches up with other nations, and what is its assessment of the German Bundestag committee of inquiry’s final report on AI?
The Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) was introduced in Germany as the legal basis for censoring unwelcome comments online. Countries such as Turkey, Russia, India, Malaysia and Singapore, which are more authoritarian than liberal, have more or less copied the NetzDG and introduced it in their own countries.
How effective does the Commission think artificial intelligence can be in automatically removing unwanted online content, and does it plan to regulate internet content with the help of AI?”
On 3 February 2021, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission welcomes the report of the Bundestag committee. Its recommendations e.g., on public sector uptake and experimentation, data sharing, diversity, industry and academia cooperation, regulatory sandboxes, support to small and medium-sized enterprises, skills and employee participation, are valuable input to EU policies.
Europe has excellent research centres, secure digital systems, a robust position in robotics, and competitive manufacturing and services sectors.
The Commission intends to propose a horizontal legal framework in 2021 to ensure that artificial intelligence (AI) follows legal and ethical standards based on European values.
The Commission also plans to review in the first quarter of 2021 the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence with Member States. The aim is to strengthen EU competitiveness by attracting investments, fostering research and innovation, building testing and experimentation facilities, inspiring uptake of AI across all sectors, e.g., with the help of the Digital Innovation Hubs, and to promote international cooperation. Joining forces at European level, the goal is to ensure over EUR 20 billion in investment into AI per year over the next decade.
The proposed Digital Services Act lays down rules for content moderation on online platforms and other intermediaries to effectively tackle illegal content, and ensuring that high standards for fundamental rights are met. It removes legal disincentives for platforms to take voluntary measures against illegal content, and imposes additional transparency obligations when automated tools are used. It imposes risk management obligations for very large platforms, including with regard to protection of fundamental rights.”
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