On February 6, 2024, the UK government published a response to the consultation on its AI Regulation White Paper, which the UK government originally published in March 2023. The White Paper set forth the UK government’s “flexible” approach to regulating AI through five cross-sectoral principles for the UK’s existing regulators to interpret and apply within their remits (read further details on the White Paper). A 12-week consultation on the White Paper was then held and this response summarizes the feedback and proposed next steps.
Some key takeaways from the response are:
- The five principles proposed received “strong support” and the UK government is committed to a context-based approach that does not contain “unnecessary blanket rules” that apply to all AI, notwithstanding the use of the technology.
- Certain existing regulators have already taken action to implement the five principles. For example, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office has updated its guidance on how UK data protection laws apply to AI systems that process personal data, and the UK Competition and Markets Authority published a review of foundation models to understand the opportunities and risks to competition and consumer protection.
- As proposed in the White Paper, the principles will be implemented on a non-statutory basis, although the government notes that many consultation respondents noted the potential benefits of a statutory duty on regulators. The government views the non-statutory approach as offering “critical adaptability,” but has indicated this approach will remain under review.
- In the White Paper, the UK government proposed developing a new central function to bring coherence to the regime and address regulatory gaps. According to the response, this proposal was “widely” welcomed and the UK government has already taken steps to establish this central function. For example, a multidisciplinary team has been recruited to undertake cross-sectoral risk monitoring within the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
In the response, the UK government lists the actions it intends to take during 2024, such as:
- continuing to develop UK domestic policy position on AI regulation (e.g., by engaging with a range of experts on interventions for highly capable AI systems);
- progressing action to promote AI opportunities and tackle AI risks (e.g., by establishing a new international dialogue to address shared risks related to electoral interference posed by AI ahead of the next AI Safety Summit);
- building out the central function and supporting regulators (e.g., by asking key regulators to publish updates on their strategic approach to AI by April 2024);
- encouraging effective AI adoption and providing support for industry, innovators and employees (e.g., by publishing an Introduction to AI Assurance and updated guidance on the use of AI within HR and recruitment in spring 2024); and
- supporting international collaboration on AI governance (e.g., by supporting the Republic of Korea and France on the next AI Safety Summits, and continuing bilateral and multilateral partnerships on AI, including the G7, G20, Council of Europe, OECD, United Nations and GPAI).