World’s First AI Law is right on HR’s Doorstep

When is it happening? The EU AI Act, which is the very first in the world, received an overwhelming support by both the Internal Market…

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Written by yichengchen

When is it happening?

The EU AI Act, which is the very first in the world, received an overwhelming support by both the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) and the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) committees in the European Parliament on 13 Feb 2024.

The endorsement of the EU AI Act by the IMCO-LIBE committee means that the draft AI legislation can now be voted by all members of the European Parliament for adoption and this has now been scheduled to take place on 10 April 2024. Most members have indicated their support. Further, the Council of Ministers have also indicated that they will support the draft AI legislation as well. Once adopted, the draft legislation can be formally ratified and enacted into EU law.

What is AI law all about?

The EU AI Act adopts a risk-based methodology and categorises AI systems into the following 4 risk groups

  1. Minimal/none:  AI technology at this level is deemed to pose almost no risk to human welfare and safety. These technologies include those that are already well in used today. Examples include video games, email spam filters. The AI Act allows for the free use of AI systems that fall under this category. 
  2. Limited risk: AI systems at this level will face transparency requirements. This is to ensure humans are aware they are interacting with AI technology such as with chat bots or deepfakes.
  3. High risk: These include applications that could post a significant threat to health, safety and even fundamental rights of mankind. The EU AI Act has identified the following 8 high level areas: Biometrics, Critical infrastructure, Education and vocational training, Employment, workers management and access to self-employment, Access to essential services, Law enforcement, Migration,asylum and border control management, and Administration of justice and democratic processes.
    • In particular, under the Employment, workers management and access to self-employment area, the following are included:
    • AI systems intended to be used for recruitment or selection of natural persons, notably to place targeted job advertisements, to analyse and filter job applications, and to evaluate candidates;
    • AI intended to be used to make decisions affecting terms of the work-related relationships, promotion and termination of work-related contractual relationships, to allocate tasks based on individual behavior or personal traits or characteristics and to monitor and evaluate performance and behavior of persons in such relationships.
  4. Unacceptable risk: At this level the applications will be strictly prohibited as they are deemed to pose a clear threat to the safety or rights of individuals. These are applications that comprise subliminal techniques, exploitative systems or social scoring systems used by public authorities such as any real-time remote biometric identification systems used by law enforcement in publicly-accessible spaces.

Why is it important?

AI is a fast-developing and fascinating area. It is important for HR professionals to understand the regulatory framework in order to assess how the following areas might be affected:

  • using AI technologies to vet through candidates during recruitment process;
  • employing AI tools in relation to employee data collection;
  • how AI processes in the company may impact employee data retention during and post employment; and
  • using AI systems for worker monitoring or performance evaluation.

Employment and workers management have been identified and given significant attention in EU AI Law. It is important to see how this plays out in its enforcement. According to the EU’s approach to AI, they believe that AI can “appreciably impact future career prospects and livelihoods” of people. For this reason, HR will need to make sure that their organizations stay within the ambits of the EU AI Act. Compliance and adaptability will be key in navigating this evolving regulatory landscape.