HomeInsightsGovernment publishes policy paper on “Establishing a pro-innovation approach to regulating AI” and invites feedback

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In the National AI Strategy, the Government set out a ten-year plan for the UK to harness the economic and societal benefits of AI while also addressing the complex challenges it presents.

The Government says that establishing clear, innovation-friendly and flexible approaches to regulating AI will be core to unleashing growth and innovation while safeguarding fundamental values and keeping people safe.

The Government says that the UK’s regulatory regime needs to be able to keep pace with and respond to the new and distinct challenges and opportunities posed by AI. It is therefore proposing to establish a pro-innovation framework for regulating AI which is underpinned by a set of cross-sectoral principles tailored to the specific characteristics of AI, and is:

  • context-specific: the Government proposes regulating AI based on its use and the impact it has on individuals, groups and businesses within a particular context, and to delegate responsibility for designing and implementing proportionate regulatory responses to regulators; this will ensure that the approach is targeted and supports innovation;
  • pro-innovation and risk-based: the Government proposes focusing on addressing issues where there is clear evidence of real risk or missed opportunities; it will ask that regulators focus on high-risk concerns rather than hypothetical or low risks associated with AI to encourage innovation and avoid placing unnecessary barriers in its way;
  • coherent: the Government proposes establishing a set of cross-sectoral principles tailored to the distinct characteristics of AI, with regulators asked to interpret, prioritise and implement these principles within their sectors and domains; and
  • proportionate and adaptable: the Government proposes setting out the cross-sectoral principles on a non-statutory basis in the first instance so that its approach remains adaptable, although it will keep this under review; the Government will ask that regulators consider lighter touch options, such as guidance or voluntary measures, in the first instance; as far as possible, it will also seek to work with existing processes rather than create new ones.

The Government says that this approach is aligned with the regulatory principles set out in the Better Regulation Framework, which emphasise proportionate regulation. It is also aligned with the Government’s vision set out through the Plan for Digital Regulation.

The Government says that it recognises the cross-border nature of the digital ecosystem and the importance of the international AI market and will continue to work closely with key partners on the global stage to shape global approaches to AI regulation. It will support cooperation on key issues, including through the Council of Europe, OECD working groups and the Global Partnership on AI and through global standards bodies such as ISO and IEC.

The Government welcomes stakeholders’ views on its proposed approach to regulating AI. Ahead of setting out further detail on the framework and implementation plans through the forthcoming White Paper, it is keen to hear reflections from across the AI ecosystem, wider industry, civil society, academia and beyond. The deadline for responses is 26 September 2022. To access the policy paper, click here.