Commission welcomes final agreement on EU Digital Identity Wallet

Press Release: “The Commission welcomes the final agreement reached today by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU at the final trilogue on the Regulation introducing European Digital Identity Wallets. This concludes the co-legislators’ work implementing the results of the provisional political agreement reached on 29 June 2023 on a legal framework for an EU Digital Identity, the first trusted and secure digital identity framework for all Europeans.

This marks an important step towards the Digital Decade 2030 targets on the digitalisation of public services. All EU citizens will be offered the possibility to have an EU Digital Identity Wallet to access public and private online services in full security and protection of personal data all over Europe.

In addition to public services, Very Large Online Platforms designated under the Digital Services Act (including services such as Amazon, or Facebook) and private services that are legally required to authenticate their users will have to accept the EU Digital Identity Wallet for logging into their online services. In addition, the wallets’ features and common specifications will make it attractive for all private service providers to accept them for their services, thus creating new business opportunities. The Wallet will also facilitate service providers’ compliance with various regulatory requirements.

In addition to securely storing their digital identity, the Wallet will allow users to open bank accounts, make payments and hold digital documents, such as a mobile Driving Licence, a medical prescription, a professional certificate or a travel ticket. The Wallet will offer a user-friendly and practical alternative to online identification guaranteed by EU law. The Wallet will fully respect the user’s choice whether or not to share personal data, it will offer the highest degree of security certified independently to the same standards, and relevant parts of its code will be published open source to exclude any possibility of misuse, illegal tracking, tracing or government interception.

The legislative discussions have strengthened the ambition of the regulation in a number of areas important for citizens. The Wallet will contain a dashboard of all transactions accessible to its holder, offer the possibility to report alleged violations of data protection, and allow interaction between wallets. Moreover, citizens will be able to onboard the wallet with existing national eID schemes and benefit from free eSignatures for non-professional use…(More)”.

The Bletchley Declaration

Declaration by Countries Attending the AI Safety Summit, 1-2 November 2023: “In the context of our cooperation, and to inform action at the national and international levels, our agenda for addressing frontier AI risk will focus on:

  • identifying AI safety risks of shared concern, building a shared scientific and evidence-based understanding of these risks, and sustaining that understanding as capabilities continue to increase, in the context of a wider global approach to understanding the impact of AI in our societies.
  • building respective risk-based policies across our countries to ensure safety in light of such risks, collaborating as appropriate while recognising our approaches may differ based on national circumstances and applicable legal frameworks. This includes, alongside increased transparency by private actors developing frontier AI capabilities, appropriate evaluation metrics, tools for safety testing, and developing relevant public sector capability and scientific research.

In furtherance of this agenda, we resolve to support an internationally inclusive network of scientific research on frontier AI safety that encompasses and complements existing and new multilateral, plurilateral and bilateral collaboration, including through existing international fora and other relevant initiatives, to facilitate the provision of the best science available for policy making and the public good.

In recognition of the transformative positive potential of AI, and as part of ensuring wider international cooperation on AI, we resolve to sustain an inclusive global dialogue that engages existing international fora and other relevant initiatives and contributes in an open manner to broader international discussions, and to continue research on frontier AI safety to ensure that the benefits of the technology can be harnessed responsibly for good and for all. We look forward to meeting again in 2024…(More)”.

Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence

The White House: “Today, President Biden is issuing a landmark Executive Order to ensure that America leads the way in seizing the promise and managing the risks of artificial intelligence (AI). The Executive Order establishes new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, advances equity and civil rights, stands up for consumers and workers, promotes innovation and competition, advances American leadership around the world, and more.

As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive strategy for responsible innovation, the Executive Order builds on previous actions the President has taken, including work that led to voluntary commitments from 15 leading companies to drive safe, secure, and trustworthy development of AI…(More)”.

EU leadership in trustworthy AI: Guardrails, Innovation & Governance

Article by Thierry Breton: “As mentioned in President von der Leyen’s State of the Union letter of intent, Europe should lead global efforts on artificial intelligence, guiding innovation, setting guardrails and developing global governance.

First, on innovation: we will launch the EU AI Start-Up Initiative, leveraging one of Europe’s biggest assets: its public high-performance computing infrastructure. We will identify the most promising European start-ups in AI and give them access to our supercomputing capacity.

I have said it before: AI is a combination of data, computing and algorithms. To train and finetune the most advanced foundation models, developers need large amounts of computing power.

Europe is a world leader in supercomputing through its European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC). Soon, Europe will have its first exascale supercomputers, JUPITER in Germany and JULES VERNE in France (able to perform a quintillion -that means a billion billion- calculations per second), in addition to various existing supercomputers (such as LEONARDO in Italy and LUMI in Finland).

Access to Europe’s supercomputing infrastructure will help start-ups bring down the training time for their newest AI models from months or years to days or weeks. And it will help them lead the development and scale-up of AI responsibly and in line with European values.

This goes together with our broader efforts to support AI innovation across the value chain – from AI start-ups to all those businesses using AI technologies in their industrial ecosystems. This includes our Testing and Experimentation Facilities for AI (launched in January 2023)our Digital Innovation Hubsthe development of regulatory sandboxes under the AI Act, our support for the European Partnership on AI, Data and Robotics and the cutting-edge research supported by HorizonEurope.

Second, guardrails for AI: Europe has pioneered clear rules for AI systems through the EU AI Act, the world’s first comprehensive regulatory framework for AI. My teams are working closely with the Parliament and Council to support the swift adoption of the EU AI Act. This will give citizens and businesses confidence in AI developed in Europe, knowing that it is safe and respects fundamental rights and European values. And it serves as an inspiration for global rules and principles for trustworthy AI.

As reiterated by President von der Leyen, we are developing an AI Pact that will convene AI companies, help them prepare for the implementation of the EU AI Act and encourage them to commit voluntarily to applying the principles of the Act before its date of applicability.

Third, governance: with the AI Act and the Coordinated Plan on AI, we are working towards a governance framework for AI, which can be a centre of expertise, in particular on large foundation models, and promote cooperation, not only between Member States, but also internationally…(More)”

Attacks on Tax Privacy: How the Tax Prep Industry Enabled Meta to Harvest Millions of Taxpayers’ Sensitive Data

Congressional Report: “The investigation revealed that:

  • Tax preparation companies shared millions of taxpayers’ data with Meta, Google, and other Big Tech firms: The tax prep companies used computer code – known as pixels – to send data to Meta and Google. While most websites use pixels, it is particularly reckless for online tax preparation websites to use them on webpages where tax return information is entered unless further steps are taken to ensure that the pixels do not access sensitive information. TaxAct, TaxSlayer, and H&R Block confirmed that they had used the Meta Pixel, and had been using it “for at least a couple of years” and all three companies had been using Google Analytics (GA) for even longer.
  • Tax prep companies shared extraordinarily sensitive personal and financial information with Meta, which used the data for diverse advertising purposes: TaxAct, H&R Block, and TaxSlayer each revealed, in response to this Congressional inquiry, that they shared taxpayer data via their use of the Meta Pixel and Google’s tools. Although the tax prep companies and Big Tech firms claimed that all shared data was anonymous, the FTC and experts have indicated that the data could easily be used to identify individuals, or to create a dossier on them that could be used for targeted advertising or other purposes. 
  • Tax prep companies and Big Tech firms were reckless about their data sharing practices and their treatment of sensitive taxpayer data: The tax prep companies indicated that they installed the Meta and Google tools on their websites without fully understanding the extent to which they would send taxpayer data to these tech firms, without consulting with independent compliance or privacy experts, and without full knowledge of Meta’s use of and disposition of the data. 
  • Tax prep companies may have violated taxpayer privacy laws by sharing taxpayer data with Big Tech firms: Under the law, “a tax return preparer may not disclose or use a taxpayer’s tax return information prior to obtaining a written consent from the taxpayer,” – and they failed to do so when it came to the information that was turned over to Meta and Google. Tax prep companies can also turn over data to “auxiliary service providers in connection with the preparation of a tax return.” But Meta and Google likely do not meet the definition of “auxiliary service providers” and the data sharing with Meta was for advertising purposes – not “in connection with the preparation of a tax return.”…(More)”.

Data Act: Commission welcomes political agreement on rules for a fair and innovative data economy

Press Release: “The Commission welcomes the political agreement reached today between the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, on the European Data Act, proposed by the Commission in February 2022.

Today, the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution fuels exponential growth with projected data volume set to skyrocket in the coming years. A significant amount of industrial data remains unused and brimming with unrealised possibilities.

The Data Act aims to boost the EU’s data economy by unlocking industrial data, optimising its accessibility and use, and fostering a competitive and reliable European cloud market. It seeks to ensure that the benefits of the digital revolution are shared by everyone.

Concretely, the Data Act includes:

  • Measures that enable users of connected devices to access the data generated by these devices and by services related to these devices. Users will be able to share such data with third parties, boosting aftermarket services and innovation. Simultaneously, manufacturers remain incentivised to invest in high-quality data generation while their trade secrets remain protected…
  • Mechanisms for public sector bodies to access and use data held by the private sector in cases of public emergencies such as floods and wildfires, or when implementing a legal mandate where the required data is not readily available through other means.
  • New rules that grant customers the freedom to switch between various cloud data-processing service providers. These rules aim to promote competition and choice in the market while preventing vendor lock-in. Additionally, the Data Act includes safeguards against unlawful data transfers, ensuring a more reliable and secure data-processing environment.
  • Measures to promote the development of interoperability standards for data-sharing and data processing, in line with the EU Standardisation Strategy…(More)”.

International Data Governance – Pathways to Progress

Press Release: “In May 2023, the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination endorsed International Data Governance – Pathways to Progress, developed through the High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) which approved the paper at its 45th session in March 2023.  International Data Governance – Pathways to Progress and its addenda were developed by the HLCP Working Group on International Data Governance…(More)”. (See Annex 1: Mapping and Comparing Data Governance Frameworks).

DMA: rules for digital gatekeepers to ensure open markets start to apply

Press Release: “The EU Digital Markets Act (DMA) applies from today. Now that the DMA applies, potential gatekeepers that meet the quantitative thresholds established have until 3 July to notify their core platform services to the Commission. ..

The DMA aims to ensure contestable and fair markets in the digital sector. It defines gatekeepers as those large online platforms that provide an important gateway between business users and consumers, whose position can grant them the power to act as a private rule maker, and thus create a bottleneck in the digital economy. To address these issues, the DMA defines a series of specific obligations that gatekeepers will need to respect, including prohibiting them from engaging in certain behaviours in a list of do’s and don’ts. More information is available in the dedicated Q&A…(More)”.

AI in Hiring and Evaluating Workers: What Americans Think

Pew Research Center survey: “… finds crosscurrents in the public’s opinions as they look at the possible uses of AI in workplaces. Americans are wary and sometimes worried. For instance, they oppose AI use in making final hiring decisions by a 71%-7% margin, and a majority also opposes AI analysis being used in making firing decisions. Pluralities oppose AI use in reviewing job applications and in determining whether a worker should be promoted. Beyond that, majorities do not support the idea of AI systems being used to track workers’ movements while they are at work or keeping track of when office workers are at their desks.

Yet there are instances where people think AI in workplaces would do better than humans. For example, 47% think AI would do better than humans at evaluating all job applicants in the same way, while a much smaller share – 15% – believe AI would be worse than humans in doing that. And among those who believe that bias along racial and ethnic lines is a problem in performance evaluations generally, more believe that greater use of AI by employers would make things better rather than worse in the hiring and worker-evaluation process. 

Overall, larger shares of Americans than not believe AI use in workplaces will significantly affect workers in general, but far fewer believe the use of AI in those places will have a major impact on them personally. Some 62% think the use of AI in the workplace will have a major impact on workers generally over the next 20 years. On the other hand, just 28% believe the use of AI will have a major impact on them personally, while roughly half believe there will be no impact on them or that the impact will be minor…(More)”.

The Citizens’ Panel proposes 23 recommendations for fair and human-centric virtual worlds in the EU

European Commission: “From 21 to 23 April, the Commission hosted the closing session of the European Citizens’ Panel on Virtual Months in Brussels, which allowed citizens to make recommendations on values and actions to create attractive and fair European virtual worlds.

These recommendations will support the Commission’s work on virtual worlds and the future of the Internet.

After three weekends of deliberations, the panel, composed of around 150 citizens randomly chosen to represent the diversity of the European population, made 23 recommendations on citizens’ expectations for the future, principles and actions to ensure that virtual worlds in the EU are fair and citizen-friendly. These recommendations are structured around eight values and principles: freedom of choice, sustainability, human-centred, health, education, safety and security, transparency and integration.

This new generation of Citizens’ Panels is a key element of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which aims to encourage citizens’ participation in the European Commission’s policy-making process in certain key areas.

The Commission is currently preparing a new initiative on virtual worlds, which will outline Europe’s vision, in line with European digital rights and principles. The upcoming initiative will focus on how to address societal challenges, foster innovation for businesses and pave the way for a transition to Web 4.0.

In addition to this Citizens’ Panel, the Commission has launched a call for input to allow citizens and stakeholders to share their thoughts on the topic. Contributions can be made until 3 May…(More)”.