HomeInsightsEuropean Parliament passes resolution calling for a strong set of rights to protect consumers in the context of artificial intelligence and automated decision-making

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The resolution addresses several challenges arising from the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making (ADM) technologies, with a special focus on consumer protection.

Parliament welcomes the potential of ADM to deliver innovative and improved services to consumers, including new digital services such as virtual assistants and chatbots. However, when interacting with a system that automates decision-making, people should be “properly informed about how it functions, about how to reach a human with decision-making powers, and about how the system’s decisions can be checked and corrected”.

The resolution states that those systems should only use high-quality and unbiased data sets and “explainable and unbiased algorithms”. Review structures should be set up to remedy possible mistakes in automated decisions and it should also be possible for consumers to seek redress for automated decisions that are final and permanent.

The resolution emphasises that: “Humans must always be ultimately responsible for, and able to overrule, decisions that are taken in the context of professional services such as the medical, legal and accounting professions, and for the banking sector.”

Parliament calls for a risk assessment scheme for AI and ADM and for a common EU approach to help secure the benefits of those processes and mitigate the risks across the EU.

MEPs also urge the Commission to table proposals adapting the EU’s safety rules for products (e.g. Directives on machinery and toy safety) to ensure that consumers are informed about how to use those products and are protected from harm, while manufacturers should be clear on their obligations.

The Product Liability Directive, adopted over 30 years ago, also needs to be revised to adapt concepts such as “product”, “damage”, “defect” and rules governing the burden of proof.

Finally, under EU law, traders have to inform consumers when the price of goods or services has been personalised on the basis of ADM and the profiling of consumer behaviour. The resolution asks the Commission to monitor closely the implementation of those rules. The EU must also ensure that ADM is not unduly being used to discriminate against consumers based on their nationality, place of residence or temporary location.

The resolution, approved by a show of hands, will be transmitted to the EU Council and the Commission so that they can take MEPs’ views on AI and ADM into account. The Commission announced that it is due to present its plans for a European approach to AI on 19 February 2020. To read the European Parliament’s press release in full, click here.

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