Civil society calls on the EU to put fundamental rights first in the AI Act

115 civil society organisations, including AlgorithmWatch and European Digital Rights (EDRi), launched a collective statement to call for an Artificial Intelligence Act (AIA) which foregrounds fundamental rights.

The statement, drafted by European Digital Rights (EDRi), Access Now, Panoptykon Foundation, epicenter.works, AlgorithmWatch, European Disability Forum (EDF), Bits of Freedom, Fair Trials, PICUM, and ANEC, outlines central recommendations to guide the European Parliament and Council of the European Union in amending the European Commission’s AIA proposal.

Read the statement now:

The signatories call for: 

  • A cohesive, flexible and future-proof approach to the ‘risk’ of AI systems.

The current form of the AIA’s risk-based approach is dysfunctional. Its way of ex ante designating AI systems to different risk categories does not consider that the level of risk also depends on the context in which a system is deployed and cannot be fully determined in advance. If this risk-based approach will be adopted, it must include robust and consistent mechanism to update the AI systems falling under the categories of ‘unacceptable’ (Article 5) and limited (Article 52) risk, and ensure that the ‘high risk’ area headings (Annex III) can also be updated.

  • Prohibitions on all AI systems posing an unacceptable risk to fundamental rights

Including a full ban on: social scoring systems; remote biometric identification in publicly accessible spaces (by all actors); emotion recognition systems; discriminatory biometric categorisation; AI physiognomy; systems used to predict future criminal activity; systems to profile and risk-assess in a migration context.

  • Obligations on users of (i.e. those deploying) high-risk AI systems to facilitate accountability to those impacted by AI systems

Including a mandatory obligation on users of high-risk AI systems to conduct and publish a fundamental rights impact assessment, including the impact on people, fundamental rights, the environment and the broader public interest.

  • Consistent and meaningful public transparency 

Including an obligation on users – not only on providers – to register use of high-risk systems on the Article 60 public database.

  • Meaningful rights and redress for people impacted by AI systems

Such as the right not to be subjected to AI systems in violation of the regulation and prohibited practices, the right to an explanation for decisions taken with the assistance of AI systems, and the right to a judicial remedy.

  • Accessibility throughout the AI life-cycle

Including accessibility requirements for all AI systems.

  • Sustainability and environmental protections when developing and using AI systems

Including public transparency requirements on the resource consumption and greenhouse gas emission impacts of AI systems.

  • Improved and future-proof standards for AI systems

Limiting the harmonised standardisation process only to genuinely technical aspects, and ensuring civil society participation in the process.

  • A truly comprehensive AIA that works for everyone

Ensuring privacy for persons with disabilities; ensuring adequate resources for enforcement bodies; removing the wide exemption for AI systems part of large scale EU IT databases; and ensuring a robust and resourced enforcement process that centres fundamental rights.

Algorithmic decision-making systems – often labelled as Artificial intelligence (AI) systems – are increasingly being used in all areas of public life. In Europe, we are witnessing not only their rapid increase but also the potentially negative impacts of AI systems on individuals and society: The predictions and decisions these systems take can be wrong, discriminatory or otherwise unjust, and undermine people’s autonomy or the public good.

By fostering mass surveillance and amplifying some of the deepest societal inequalities and power imbalances, the use of AI systems can put our fundamental rights, values, and democratic processes at risk. The EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act must address the structural, societal, political and economic impacts of the use of AI. This will ensure that the law is future-proof and prioritises the protection of fundamental rights – the objective it is set out to achieve.

We, the undersigned organisations, urge the Council of the EU, the European Parliament, and all EU Member State governments to ensure that the forthcoming Artificial Intelligence Act achieves the goals set in our statement and puts our fundamental rights first.

Signed by

1 European Digital Rights (EDRi) (European)

2 Access Now (International)

3 The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) (United Kingdom)

4 Algorights (Spain)

5 AlgorithmWatch (European)

6 All Out (International)

7 Amnesty International (International)

8 ARTICLE 19 (International)

9 Asociación Salud y Familia (Spain)

10 Aspiration (United States)

11 Association for action against violence and trafficking in human beings -

Open Gate / La Strada Macedonia (North Macedonia)

12 Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) (Italy)

13 Association for Monitoring Equal Rights (Turkey)

14 Association of citizens for promotion and protection of cultural and spiritual values – Legis Skopje (North Macedonia)

15 Associazione Certi Diritti (Italy)

16 Associazione Luca Coscioni (Italy)

17 Baobab Experience (Italy)

18 Belgian Disability Forum asbl (BDF) (Belgium)

19 Big Brother Watch (United Kingdom)

20 Bits of Freedom (The Netherlands)

21 Border Violence Monitoring Network (European)

22 Campagna LasciateCIEntrare (Italy)

23 Center for AI and Digital Policy (CAIDP) (International)

24 Chaos Computer Club (CCC) (Germany)

25 Chaos Computer Club Lëtzebuerg (Luxembourg)

26 CILD – Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (Italy)

27 Controle Alt Delete (The Netherlands)

28 D3 - Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (Portugal)

29 D64 - Zentrum für digitalen Fortschritt (Center for Digital Progress) (Germany)

30 DataEthics.eu (European)

31 Digital Defenders Partnership (International)

32 Digitalcourage (Germany)

33 Digitale Freiheit e.V. (Germany)

34 Digitale Gesellschaft (Germany)

35 Digitale Gesellschaft (Schweiz) (Switzerland)

36 Disabled Peoples Organisations (Denmark)

37 DonesTech (Spain)

38 Državljan D / Citizen D (Slovenia)

39 Each One Teach One e.V. (Germany)

40 Elektronisk Forpost Norge (EFN) (Norway)

41 epicenter.works (Austria)

42 Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice (European)

43 Eticas Foundation (Spain)

44 Eumans (European)

45 European Anti-Poverty Network (European)

46 European Center for Not-for-Profit Law Stichting (International)

47 European Civic Forum (European)

48 European Disability Forum (EDF) (European)

49 European Network Against Racism (ENAR) (European)

50 European Network on Religion and Belief (European)

51 European Network on Statelessness (European)

52 European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance (European)

53 European Youth Forum (European)

54 Fair Trials (European)

55 FAIRWORK Belgium (Belgium)

56 FIDH (International Federation for Human rights) (International)

57 Fundación Secretariado Gitano (Spain)

58 Future of Life Institute (International)

59 GHETT’UP (France)

60 Greek Forum of Migrants (Greece)

61 Greek Forum of Refugees (European)

62 Health Action International (The Netherlands)

63 Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland)

64 Hermes Center (Italy)

65 Hivos (International)

66 Homo Digitalis (Greece)

67 Human Rights Association (Turkey)

68 Human Rights House Zagreb (Croatia)

69 HumanRights360 (Greece / European)

70 ILGA-Europe - The European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (European)

71 Implementation Team of the Decade of People of African Descent (Spain)

72 info.nodes (Italy)

73 Interferencias (Spain)

74 International Commission of Jurists (NJCM) - Dutch Section (The Netherlands)

75 Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) (Ireland)

76 IT-Pol Denmark (Denmark)

77 JustX (European)

78 Lafede.cat – organitzacions per a la justícia global (Spain)

79 Ligue des droits de l'Homme (LDH) (France)

80 Ligue des droits humains (Belgium)

81 Maruf Foundation (The Netherlands)

82 Mediterranea Saving Humans Aps (Italy / International)

83 Melitea (European)

84 Mnemonic (Germany / International)

85 Moje Państwo Foundation (Poland)

86 Montreal AI Ethics Institute (Canada)

87 Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) (Ireland)

88 Netwerk Democratie (The Netherlands)

89 NOVACT (Spain / International)

90 OMEP - Oraganisation Mondiale pour l'Education Prescolaire / World Organi-

zation for Early Childhood Education (International)

91 Open Knowledge Foundation (International)

92 Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI) (International)

93 OpenMedia (International)

94 Panoptykon Foundation (Poland)

95 The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) (International)

96 Privacy International (International)

97 Racism and Technology Center (The Netherlands)

98 Ranking Digital Rights (International)

99 Refugee Law Lab, York University (International)

100 Refugees in danger (Denmark)

101 Science for Democracy (European)

102 SHARE Foundation (Serbia)

103 SOLIDAR & SOLIDAR Foundation (European)

104 Statewatch (European)

105 Stop Wapenhandel (The Netherlands)

106 StraLi (European)

107 SUPERRR Lab (Germany)

108 Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece, Council of Europe Network (Greece)

109 Taylor Bennett Foundation (United Kingdom)

110 UNI Europa (European)

111 Universidad y Ciencia Somosindicalistas (Spain)

112 Vrijschrift.org (The Netherlands)

113 WeMove Europe (European)

114 Worker Info Exchange (International)

115 Xnet (Spain)