The European Union’s push to regulate AI has faced intense corporate lobbying attempts at every stage of the policy-making process.
A new report by Corporate Europe Observatory reveals how Big Tech has been able to slowly pick the AI Act apart. To give just an idea of the scale of these ongoing lobbying efforts, our new report documents at least 565 meetings between MEPs and business interests on the AI Act.
In April 2021, EU commissioners Margarethe Vestager and Thierry Breton presented a proposal for a European legal framework on AI. It was celebrated as the first global attempt to regulate AI — a technology that, as the commission observed, would “have an enormous impact on the way people live and work in the coming decades.”
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Meta announced it was “in touch” with member states on the AI Act, but no data on Council lobby meetings is available. In an open letter to the Czech presidency of the Council, Microsoft saw “no need for the AI Act to have a specific section on [general purpose AI].”
Crucially, Big Tech has been able to get the US government to back up its position. Tech companies spent $70m lobbying the US Congress in 2021, and 2022 was described as a “gold rush” for AI lobbying in the US.Whilst some uses of AI may be beneficial, these systems also come with serious risks. AI systems often do not work as intended, and they can be unaccountable. They can discriminate based on gender, disability or race. Indeed, the potential to exacerbate inequality has been criticized by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.