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Cnil and AI: Finding the balance

Since its creation by the “Informatique et Libertés” law, the National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (Cnil) has expanded its scope of intervention to new related fields, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), which has become a real “hot topic”. Technological advances in this field raise numerous questions about the protection of personal data and ethics. The Cnil, as a regulator, must find the right balance between the development of AI and the protection of users’ privacy.

AI is at the heart of the Cnil’s concerns lately, especially with the use of AI-boosted surveillance cameras for the Paris 2024 Olympics. In a recent interview, the President of the Commission, Marie-Laure Denis, highlights the crucial role played by the Cnil in regulating AI. The challenges are numerous, ranging from algorithms to the use of so-called augmented surveillance cameras, sanctions against digital giants, and the verification of minors’ age on the internet. All these sensitive topics must be approached with caution to allow for responsible digital evolution.

The biggest challenge for the Cnil will be to find the right balance between protecting users’ privacy and the development of AI. This involves regulating the amounts of information collected, their use, security, and retention periods. It is also necessary to clearly explain the mechanisms to users in order to obtain their informed consent.

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The Cnil must also work on two major projects: the establishment of learning databases and the articulation of the European regulation project on AI with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Generative AI models such as ChatGPT also pose challenges to the GDPR. These text, image, or sound-generating systems use open sources of data on the internet that have not usually been verified, posing questions about data protection and ethics.

Despite the complexity of AI regulation, the Cnil must act to respond to users’ concerns and ensure that AI development is done responsibly. However, some may denounce a lack of action or reaction in the face of technologies with strong repressive potential, such as AI-driven video surveillance. The Cnil must, therefore, listen to citizens and professionals to find suitable solutions to the new challenges posed by AI.

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