MEPs give Europol free rein to use and develop AI, despite recognising its fundamental harms

Article by Fair Trials

Yesterday, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) waived through a proposal to extend Europol’s ever-increasing mandate. We are highly concerned by this decision, which will effectively allow Europol to develop and use AI tools for policing with little oversight or accountability.

The announcement is particularly disappointing as LIBE’s AI in Criminal Matters report, highlighting the fundamental harms caused by AI and automated decision-making systems, was passed by MEPs last week. We have also recently documented the risks AI in criminal justice poses to fundamental rights. Fair Trials European Legal Director Laure Baudrihaye-Gérard said:

LIBE’s approval of Europol’s extended mandate is contradictory and inconsistent. In its AI in Criminal Matters report, the Committee recognised the serious threat that AI in policing poses to fundamental rights, but it has then proceeded to give Europol free rein to develop AI for policing.

No law enforcement agency even Europol should be allowed to operate without safeguards or accountability. Giving Europol free rein to develop and use AI risks serious violations of human rights, including the right to a fair trial, to privacy and data protection rights.

We strongly urge MEPs to demonstrate that they are truly committed to protecting people in Europe and their rights by voting against the proposal when it is presented in plenary.