EU’s AI Act fails to set gold standard for human rights

Following a gruelling negotiation process, EU institutions are expected to conclusively adopt the final AI Act in April 2024. Here’s our round-up of how the final law fares against our collective demands.


3 April 2024

#aiact #eu

Nikolett Aszódi
Policy & Advocacy Manager

While the EU is about to celebrate, we take a much more critical stance, highlighting the many missed opportunities to make sure that our rights to privacy, equality, non-discrimination, the presumption of innocence, and many other rights and freedoms are protected when it comes to AI. Here’s our round-up of how the final law fares against our collective demands.

For the last three years, AlgorithmWatch has worked in coalition with a broad range of digital, human rights, and social justice groups to demand that Artificial Intelligence works for people, prioritizing the protection of fundamental rights. We have put forward our collective vision for an approach where “human-centric” is not just a buzzword, where people on the move are treated with dignity, and where lawmakers are bold enough to draw red lines against unacceptable uses of AI systems.

Please note that this analysis is based on the latest available version of the AI Act text, dated 6 March 2024. There may still be small changes made before the law’s final adoption.

We called on EU lawmakers to empower affected people by upholding a framework of accountability, transparency, accessibility and redress. How did they do? 

Secondly, we urged EU lawmakers to limit harmful and discriminatory surveillance by national security, law enforcement and migration authorities. How did they do?

Third, we urged EU lawmakers to push back on Big Tech lobbying; and to remove loopholes that undermine the regulation. How did they do?

What’s next for the AI Act?

The coming year will be decisive for the EU’s AI Act, with different EU institutions, national lawmakers and even company representatives setting standards, publishing interpretive guidelines and driving the Act’s implementation across the EU’s member countries. Some parts of the law - the prohibitions - could become operational as soon as November. It is therefore vital that civil society groups are given a seat at the table, and that this work is not done in opaque settings and behind closed doors.

We urge lawmakers around the world who are also considering also bringing in horizontal rules on AI to learn from the EU’s many mistakes outlined above. A meaningful set of protections must ensure that AI rules truly work for individuals, communities, society, rule of law, and the planet.

While this long chapter of lawmaking is now coming to a close, the next chapter of implementation – and trying to get as many wins out of this Regulation as possible - is just beginning. As a group, we are drafting an implementation guide for civil society, coming later this year. We want to express our thanks to the entire AI core group, who have worked tirelessly for over three years to analyze, advocate and mobilize around the EU AI Act. In particular, we thank the work, dedication and vision of Sarah Chander, of the Equinox Racial Justice Institute, for her leadership of this group in the last three years.

To learn more about our coalition’s views and analysis of the final AI Act, check out the following resources: