Fair Trials calls on Czech Presidency to protect fundamental rights in the AI Act

Article by Fair Trials

Fair Trials has joined nine other civil society organisations to call for major changes in the Council position on the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act) to ensure that it upholds fundamental rights and protects against discrimination. The AI Act is currently under negotiation by the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and there are serious shortcomings in the Council’s position.

In an open letter to Ivan Bartoš, Czech Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation, and EU Ministers of Telecoms and Digitalisation, we highlight that essential fundamental rights protections are currently missing from the Council’s approach to the AI Act. This includes comprehensive prohibitions on all AI systems posing an ‘unacceptable risk’ to fundamental rights, including predictive and profiling AI systems used in policing and criminal justice. These systems are known to reinforce discrimination and undermine fundamental rights. We also highlight the need for:

  • steps to empower people affected by AI systems to understand, challenge and seek redress;
  • meaningful accountability and public transparency obligations on public uses of AI systems and all ‘users’ of high-risk AI;
  • accessibility requirements for providers and users of all AI systems throughout the life cycle;
  • meaningful and balanced civil society participation in all aspects of the AI Act.

There are also key shortcomings in the Council’s position which risk undermining the effective protection of people and fundamental rights from high-risk AI systems. This includes the Council’s changes to the classification of high-risk AI systems, loopholes to public transparency for high-risk AI systems in law enforcement and migration, and a broad proposed exemption from scope for AI for national security purposes.

Read the full letter here.