Council of Europe adopts AI Convention

The Council of Europe wants to protect human rights from abuse by artificial intelligence (AI) with a convention. The organization is hoping for a global impact - but there is clear criticism.

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"With this new treaty, we want to ensure the responsible use of AI that respects human rights, the rule of law and democracy," said Marija Pejcinovic Buric, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg on Friday. The European Union had already agreed on a law on AI in December, now the Council of Europe, which is independent of the EU, is following suit.

The convention is intended to regulate the use of AI in the public and private sectors. However, when it comes to regulating the private sector, states can choose whether to take their own measures instead of the Convention's provisions. This is necessary due to the different legal systems, according to the Council of Europe.

Criticism of the agreement

However, critics complain that this dilutes the agreement and gives states and companies too much freedom. The provisions also do not apply to issues of national security and defense.

According to the Council of Europe, the agreement sets out transparency and monitoring requirements, for example when content is created by AI. States must also ensure that AI systems respect the prohibition of discrimination and the right to privacy, it said. Furthermore, it must be ensured that AI systems are not used to undermine democratic processes.

Swiss delegation actively involved

Switzerland actively participated in the negotiations, which lasted a total of one and a half years, the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) announced on Friday. Thomas Schneider, Ambassador and Bakom Deputy Director, led the negotiations as Chairman of the Committee on Artificial Intelligence.

Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis was also present at the adoption of the convention by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. According to the Federal Office of Communications, the Convention will be opened for signature by all states in September 2024. If it is ratified by Switzerland, it will still have to be transposed into national law, as the press release explains further.

Once signed, the Convention can be acceded to not only by Council of Europe member states, but by countries worldwide. Anyone who has signed the convention is then bound by it. Countries outside the Council of Europe, such as the USA, Canada and Israel, were also involved in the negotiations.

The Council of Europe is independent of the EU and, together with its Court of Justice, works to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Its 46 members include all 27 EU countries, as well as countries such as the UK, Turkey and Switzerland. It is therefore responsible for 680 million people - from Greenland to Azerbaijan. (SDA)

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