On Wednesday 12th February 2020 the Parliament adopted a resolution on automated decision-making processes: ensuring consumer protection and free movement of goods and services. AI is an area which has been the subject of much debate in the early part of 2020 both in Strasbourg and in Brussels.
The resolution, which was approved by a show of hands, addresses a number of issues in the rapidly emerging field of AI under four distinct headings.
(1) Consumer choice trust and welfare
The European Parliament welcomes the potential of automated decision-making (AMD) to deliver innovative and improved services to customers albeit a consumer should be informed of how such a system functions and how decisions made by the systems can be check and corrected. The Parliament also calls on the Commission to ensure there are no regulatory gaps and examine whether additional measures may be necessary to guarantee the rights of consumers. The Parliament also calls on the Commission to take account of the use of automated-decisions making when considering any review of Directive 2013/11/EU on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes.
(2) Safety and liability for products
Parliament recognises the valuable safety net which the Product Liability Directive has provided over the last 30 years. It calls on the Commission to review same and in particular, adapting the definitions of ‘product’, ‘damage’ and ‘defect’ as well as the rules governing the burden of proof to reflect the challenges which AI poses. In line with the conclusions of 2019 Expert Group’s report on Liability and New Technologies, the Parliament recommends a risk-based approach to regulation of liability and calls on the Commission to develop a risk assessment scheme.
(3) Regulatory framework for services
Whilst AMD can improve the efficiency and accuracy of decision making process, Parliament urges that ‘Humans must always be ultimately responsible for, and able to overrule, decisions that are taken in the context of professional services such as the medical, legal and accounting professions, and for the banking sector’
(4) Quality and transparency in data governance
Parliament emphasises the importance of protecting personal data under the GDPR and stress the importance of using high-quality and unbiased sets and algorithms. Consumers should be able to seek a human review of automated decisions and there needs to be a process to remedy possible mistakes. Parliament also highlights the need for algorithms to be ‘adequately transparent’ and explainable to market surveillance authorities.
The Resolution will be put before the EU Council and the Commission for consideration. The Commission is due to present a European approach to AI on 19th February 2020.