Establishing a ‘legally binding instrument’ for democratic governance of AI

Strasbourg 22 October 2020
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Establishing a ‘legally binding instrument’ for democratic governance of AI

The Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting by videoconference, stressed the need for a global regulatory framework for AI, based on the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and proposed that the Committee of Ministers support the elaboration of a “legally binding instrument” governing AI, possibly in the form of a Convention.

"AI can bring about economic and social progress, and improve government transparency and democratic participation, but it can also be used to disrupt democracy through interference in electoral processes, or manipulating public opinion, the parliamentarians stressed, adopting unanimously a resolution based on the report by Deborah Bergamini (Italy, EPP/CD).

In addition, the adopted text indicates that some States and private actors use AI to control individuals such as automated filtering of information or mass surveillance using smartphones. “These practices risk undermining civil rights and political freedoms and the emergence of digital authoritarianism,” the parliamentarians said.

The legally binding instrument advocated by PACE should ensure that AI-based technologies comply with Council of Europe’s standards and ethical principles such as transparency, fairness, security and privacy. According to the parliamentarians, this instrument should also limit the possibilities that AI is misused to damage democracy, and ensure that AI promotes government accountability, the fight against corruption, and more direct democracy.

Source: PACE website

Towards an application of AI based on human rights, the rule of law and democracy