European Commission proposes new rules for manufacturers of drones, robots and AI systems

European citizens and companies will soon be able to more easily hold manufacturers of drones, robots and AI-based systems accountable by suing them for their abuses.

The draft AI Liability Directive aims to address the growing use of artificial intelligence technologies in products and services for European consumers, replacing the current legal framework applied by the 27 EU countries.

Under the new package of laws, currently in the negotiation stage, victims will be able to claim compensation for damage to life, property, health and privacy, if they were caused by the fault or omission of a supplier, developer or user of AI technology, or for discrimination in a recruitment process using AI.

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“We want the same level of protection for victims of harm caused by the use of AI as for victims of old technologies,” Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told a press conference.

The new laws will make it easier for victims to prove their claims, replacing direct evidence with a “presumption of causation”, under which victims need only prove that a manufacturer’s or user’s failure to comply with certain requirements caused the damage and then link this to the AI technology in the legal action.

At the same time, new “right of access to evidence” rules will allow victims to ask the courts to order companies and suppliers to provide information about high-risk AI systems so that they can identify the person responsible and the problem that caused the damage. In addition, manufacturers/developers will be directly liable in law for unsafe products launched on the European market, whether physical or software and other services. Users of these products will be able to sue companies and get compensation when software updates make smart home products insecure, or when manufacturers fail to fix cybersecurity gaps. Those with insecure products from outside the EU will be able to sue the manufacturer’s EU representative for compensation.

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