UK

On 15 January 2024, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) announced the launch of a consultation series (“Consultation”) on how elements of data protection law apply to the development and use of generative AI (“GenAI”). For the purposes of the Consultation, GenAI refers to “AI models that can create new content e.g., text, computer code, audio, music, images, and videos”.

As part of the Consultation, the ICO will publish a series of chapters over the coming months outlining their thinking on how the UK GDPR and Part 2 of the Data Protection Act 2018 apply to the development and use of GenAI. The first chapter, published in tandem with the Consultation’s announcement, covers the lawful basis, under UK data protection law, for web scraping of personal data to train GenAI models. Interested stakeholders are invited to provide feedback to the ICO by 1 March 2024.Continue Reading ICO Launches Consultation Series on Generative AI

Recent proposals to amend the UK’s national security investment screening regime mean that investors may in future be required to make mandatory, suspensory, pre-closing filings to the UK Government when seeking to invest in a broader range of companies developing generative artificial intelligence (AI). The UK Government launched a Call for Evidence in November 2023 seeking input from stakeholders on a number of potential amendments to the operation of the National Security and Investment Act (NSIA) regime, including whether generative AI, which the Government states is not currently directly in scope of the AI filing trigger, should expressly fall within the mandatory filing regime. The Call for Evidence closes on 15 January 2024.

This blog sets out how the NSIA regime operates, how investments in companies developing AI are currently caught by the NSIA, and the Government’s proposals to refine the scope of AI activities captured by the regime, including potentially directly encompassing generative AI.Continue Reading UK Government Consults on Amending Mandatory Filing Obligations for AI Acquisitions

On 31 August 2023, the UK’s House of Commons Innovation and Technology Committee (“Committee”) published an interim report (“Report”) evaluating the UK Government’s AI governance proposals and examining different approaches to the regulation of AI systems. As readers of this blog will be aware, in March 2023, the UK Government published a White Paper setting out its “pro-innovation approach to AI regulation” which will require existing regulators to take responsibility for promoting and overseeing responsible AI within their sectors (for further information on the UK Government’s strategy, see our blog post here).

The Report recommends that the UK Government introduce a “tightly-focused AI Bill” in the next parliamentary session to “position the UK as an AI governance leader”.Continue Reading UK Parliament Publishes Interim Report on the UK’s AI Governance Proposals

On 21 June 2023, at the close of a roundtable meeting of the G7 Data Protection and Privacy Authorities, regulators from the United States, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Canada and Japan published a joint “Statement on Generative AI” (“Statement”) (available here). In the Statement, regulators identify a range of data protection-related concerns they believe are raised by generative AI tools, including legal authority for processing personal information, and transparency, explainability, and security. The group of regulators also call on companies to “embed privacy in the design conception, operation, and management” of generative AI tools.

In advance of the G7 meeting, on 15 June 2023, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) separately announced that it will be “checking” whether businesses have addressed privacy risks before deploying generative AI, and “taking action where there is risk of harm to people through poor use of their data”.Continue Reading UK and G7 Privacy Authorities Warn of Privacy Risks Raised by Generative AI

On 29 March 2023, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published updated Guidance on AI and data protection (the “Guidance”) following “requests from UK industry to clarify requirements for fairness in AI”. AI has been a strategic priority for the ICO for several years. In 2020, the ICO published its first set of guidance on AI (as discussed in our blog post here) which it complemented with supplementary recommendations on Explaining Decisions Made with AI and an AI and Data Protection risk toolkit in 2022. The updated Guidance forms part of the UK’s wider efforts to adopt a “pro-innovation” approach to AI regulation which will require existing regulators to take responsibility for promoting and overseeing responsible AI within their sectors (for further information on the UK Government’s approach to AI regulation, see our blog post here).

The updated Guidance covers the ICO’s view of best practice for data protection-compliant AI, as well as how the ICO interprets data protection law in the context of AI systems that process personal data. The Guidance has been restructured in line with the UK GDPR’s data protection principles, and features new content, including guidance on fairness, transparency, lawfulness and accountability when using AI systems.Continue Reading UK ICO Updates Guidance on Artificial Intelligence and Data Protection

On 29 March 2023, the UK Government published a White Paper entitled “A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation” (“White Paper”). The White Paper elaborates on the approach to AI set out by the Government in its 2022 AI Governance and Regulation Policy Statement (“Policy Statement” – covered in our blog post here). This announcement comes following the Government’s commitments, in the Spring Budget 2023, to build an expert taskforce to develop the UK’s capabilities in AI foundation models and produce guidance on the relationship between intellectual property law and generative AI (for more details of these initiatives, see here).

In its White Paper, the UK Government confirms that, unlike the EU, it does not plan to adopt new legislation to regulate AI, nor will it create a new regulator for AI (for further details on the EU’s proposed AI regulation see our blog posts here and here). Instead, the UK would require existing regulators, including the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”), to take responsibility for the establishment, promotion, and oversight of responsible AI in their respective sectors. Regulators’ activities would be reinforced by the establishment of new support and oversight functions within central Government. This approach is already beginning to play out in certain regulated areas in the UK. For example, in October 2022, the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) jointly released a Discussion Paper on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning considering how AI in financial services should be regulated and, in March 2023, the ICO updated its Guidance on AI and Data Protection.  Continue Reading UK Government Adopts a “Pro-Innovation” Approach to AI Regulation

            On April 28, 2022, Covington convened experts across our practice groups for the Covington Robotics Forum, which explored recent developments and forecasts relevant to industries affected by robotics.  Sam Jungyun Choi, Associate in Covington’s Technology Regulatory Group, and Anna Oberschelp, Associate in Covington’s Data Privacy & Cybersecurity Practice Group, discussed global regulatory trends that

On January 6, 2021, the UK’s AI Council (an independent government advisory body) published its AI Roadmap (“Roadmap”). In addition to calling for a  Public Interest Data Bill to ‘protect against automation and collective harms’, the Roadmap acknowledges the need to counteract public suspicion of AI and makes 16 recommendations, based on three main pillars, to guide the UK Government’s AI strategy.
Continue Reading AI Update: The Future of AI Policy in the UK

In April 2019, the UK Government published its Online Harms White Paper and launched a Consultation. In February 2020, the Government published its initial response to that Consultation. In its 15 December 2020 full response to the Online Harms White Paper Consultation, the Government outlined its vision for tackling harmful content online through a new regulatory framework, to be set out in a new Online Safety Bill (“OSB”).

This development comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of, and regulatory changes to, digital services and markets. Earlier this month, the UK Competition and Markets Authority published recommendations to the UK Government on the design and implementation of a new regulatory regime for digital markets (see our update here).

The UK Government is keen to ensure that policy initiatives in this sector are coordinated with similar legislation, including those in the US and the EU. The European Commission also published its proposal for a Digital Services Act on 15 December, proposing a somewhat similar system for regulating illegal online content that puts greater responsibilities on technology companies.

Key points of the UK Government’s plans for the OSB are set out below.Continue Reading UK Government Plans for an Online Safety Bill

On 10 September 2020, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published its beta-phase “Accountability Framework” (“Framework”).  The Framework is designed to assist organisations, of any size and across all sectors, in complying with the accountability principle under the GDPR and in meeting the expectations of the ICO.

The Framework will help those within organisations who are responsible for implementing data protection compliance strategies.  The ICO envisages that organisations will use the Framework in conjunction with other relevant guidance and materials available from the ICO.  The ICO emphasises that each organisation must be mindful of its own circumstances when managing data protection risks, and that a “one size fits all” approach should not be adopted.Continue Reading UK Information Commissioner’s Office Publishes Draft Accountability Framework Tool