With the AI Act, the EU regulation on artificial intelligence, the European Union aims to establish a regulatory framework that will have refluences in the metaverse for EU member countries. The EU regulatory framework is necessary in order to guarantee the protection and respect of fundamental rights, as well as of transparency and accountability in the use of digital environments such as that of the metaverse and products resulting from AI. The regulation establishes guidelines for the use of AI in specific sectors, such as health, justice and armed forces, and defines the sanctions for violations of its provisions.
European regulatory framework for AI
To protect fundamental rights and transparency, The European AI regulation provides a regulatory framework for the use of Artificial Intelligence . The rules for AI market surveillance have been simplified and clarified so as to be more effective and enforceable. The text significantly modifies the provisions on the AI Committee, with the aim of strengthening its decision-making power and increasing its autonomy in the governance architecture for AI legislation.
In order to engage the different interests related to the implementation of AI legislation, including the creation of executive and delegated acts, the Committee is required to establish a permanent sub-group to serve as a platform for a wide range of stakeholders. In case of violation of the provisions on AI, the administrative fines have been adjusted to the most proportionate thresholds for small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups.
The aim of the EU Council is to promote the development and adoption across the single market of secure AI that respects fundamental rights, so as to accelerate investments in Europe.
Rights protection, Transparency and accountability in the use of AI
One of the main goals of the European AI regulation is to ensure the protection of fundamental rights in the use of AI. The regulation lays down provisions to allow the use of AI, without it compromising fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, privacy and human dignity.
The European AI regulation also requires transparency and accountability in the use of AI. For example, AI developers are required to ensure that their systems are transparent and that they are able to report on their decisions and how they operate. Furthermore, developers are expected to be responsible for the consequences of using their AI systems.
Guidelines for using AI and immersive reality
The AI Act guidelines aim to ensure that AI is used responsibly and safely while preserving fundamental rights and transparency in the use of AI and provide for:
- Request for transparency: AI developers are required to ensure that their systems are transparent and that they are able to report on their decisions and how they operate.
- Developer Responsibility: AI developers are expected to be accountable for the consequences of using their AI systems.
- Decision Reporting: AI developers are expected to report on the decisions their systems made and how those decisions were made.
- Information Disclosure: AI developers are expected to disclose information about how they operate and their decisions.
- Personal data protection: The European AI regulation establishes provisions to ensure that personal data is treated responsibly and that it is protected from possible privacy breaches.
- Sanctions for violations: The regulation establishes sanctions for violations of its provisions, in order to ensure that AI developers comply with the established rules and guidelines.
The opinion of the Data Protection Authority on the Metaverse development methods
The Italian Data Protection Authority is also examining the ways of guaranteeing rights in the virtual space, given how this context makes real rights more exposed.
It becomes crucial to identify and adopt essential guarantees to prevent the space of the metaverse from becoming anomic, i.e. a space in which it is possible to violate the sphere of rights without any limit or sanction. “The personalization of contents typical of the #Metaverse – says the Authority – will allow new instances of protection to emerge in the face of new vulnerabilities and even new subjectivities, such as that of the digital twin into which our ego will be projected”
Today the metaverse already appears as a persistent and three-dimensional articulated space in which to act as in a parallel reality where rights protection is not envisaged by any law.
“As long as this new dimension will appear as ever more capable of simulating reality, almost replacing it – states Guarantor Stanzione – it could end up representing a place of infinite possibilities where one is freed from the utter concreteness of reality. The transversality and multiplicity of experiences, as well as the volume of information potentially generated within the metaverse will determine a collection of personal data not comparable with that of the web in terms of quality and quantity. The data will be biometric, conveyed by wearable devices any abuse thereof must be preempted. It will also be necessary to rethink consent collection systems and transparency guarantees in the information obligations”.
Furthermore, according to the Authority, due to the levels of interaction rate between users and the need therefore to protect minors from prejudicial experiences, age verification will be decisive, naturally with systems that do not involve excessively invasive monitoring of the users’ activities.
The metaverse as a non-place where dealing with the same problems as real society.
The need to think of a regulatory framework capable of establishing the limits of freedom, principles, rights, duties in the metaverse – just as it has been implemented in real societies – is determined by the fact that the evolution of virtual societies involves humans both in their real public and private dimension.
Legal assistance in the metaverse
Intellectual property, commercial transactions, privacy, data protection and the use of the content are bound to be the legal issues towards which requests will be directed. In this rapidly evolving digital space, laws and regulations are still developing, and case law is very limited when it comes to issues related to virtual property and liability for user behaviour within virtual reality. Legal assistance for rights arising in virtual worlds and augmented reality such as the metaverse will be increasingly in demand
Legal assistance in the metaverse represents a new frontier for lawyers as well as an opportunity to provide their clients with innovative services. With the growing importance of the virtual world and augmented reality in people’s daily lives, more and more legal issues are emerging that require appropriate solutions. Lawyers will therefore be called upon to provide legal advice and assistance in this new digital space, both for individuals and for companies for the protection of clients in situations of:
- Commercial abuse
- Abuse in profiling
- Abuse in personal data processing
- Consumer manipulation through imitative processes
The ability to understand and navigate this unchartered territory will be a key enabler for the most qualified law firms.