Our thinking

AI Watch: Global regulatory tracker

What's inside

Keeping track of AI regulatory developments around the world.

The global dash to regulate AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) has made enormous strides in recent years and has increasingly moved into the public consciousness.

Increases in computational power, coupled with advances in machine learning, have fueled the rapid rise of AI. This has brought enormous opportunities, as new AI applications have given rise to new ways of doing business. It has also brought potential risks, from unintended impacts on individuals (e.g., AI errors harming an individual's credit score or public reputation) to the risk of misuse of AI by malicious third parties (e.g., by manipulating AI systems to produce inaccurate or misleading output, or by using AI to create deepfakes).

Governments and regulatory bodies around the world have had to act quickly to try to ensure that their regulatory frameworks do not become obsolete. In addition, international organizations such as the G7, the UN, the Council of Europe and the OECD have responded to this technological shift by issuing their own AI frameworks. But they are all scrambling to stay abreast of technological developments, and already there are signs that emerging efforts to regulate AI will struggle to keep pace. In an effort to introduce some degree of international consensus, the UK government organized the first global AI Safety Summit in November 2023, with the aim of encouraging the safe and responsible development of AI around the world. 

Most jurisdictions have sought to strike a balance between encouraging AI innovation and investment, while at the same time attempting to create rules to protect against possible harms. However, jurisdictions around the world have taken substantially different approaches to achieving these goals, which has in turn increased the risk that businesses face from a fragmented and inconsistent AI regulatory environment. Nevertheless, certain trends are becoming clearer at this stage:

  1. "AI" means different things in different jurisdictions: One of the foundational challenges that any international business faces when designing an AI regulatory compliance strategy is figuring out what constitutes "AI." Unfortunately, the definition of AI varies from one jurisdiction to the next. For example, the draft text of the EU AI Act adopts a definition of "AI systems" that is based on (but is not identical to) the OECD's definition, and which leaves room for substantial doubt due to its uncertain wording. Canada has proposed a similar, though more concise, definition. Various US states have proposed their own definitions, which differ from one another. And many jurisdictions (e.g., the UK, Israel, China, and Japan) do not currently provide a comprehensive definition of AI. Because several of the proposed AI regulations have extraterritorial effect (meaning more than one AI regulation may apply simultaneously), international businesses may be forced to adopt a "highest common denominator" approach to identifying AI based on the strictest applicable standard.
  2. Emerging AI regulations come in different forms: The various emerging AI regulations have no consistent legal form – some are statutes, some are executive orders, some are expansions of existing regulatory frameworks, and so on. The EU AI Act is a "Regulation" (which means that most of it will apply directly in all EU Member States, without the need for national implementation in most cases). The UK has taken a different approach, declining to legislate at this early stage in the development of AI, and instead choosing to task existing UK regulators with the responsibility of interpreting and applying five AI principles in their respective spheres. In the US, there is a mix of White House Executive Orders, federal and state initiatives, and actions by existing regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission. As a result, the types of compliance obligations that international businesses face are likely to be materially different from one jurisdiction to the next. Many other jurisdictions have yet to decide whether they will issue sector-specific or generally applicable rules and have yet to decide between creating new regulators or expanding the roles of existing regulators, making it challenging for businesses to anticipate what form their AI regulatory relationships will take in the long term.
  3. Emerging AI regulations have different conceptual approaches: The next difficulty is the lack of a consistent conceptual approach among emerging AI regulations around the world – some are legally binding while others are not, some are sector-specific while others apply across all sectors, some will be enforced by regulators while others are merely guidelines or recommendations, and so on. As noted above, the UK approach is to use existing regulators to implement five AI principles, but with no new explicit legal obligations. This has the advantage of meaning that businesses will deal with AI regulators with whom they are already familiar but has the disadvantage that different UK regulators may interpret these principles differently in their respective spheres. The EU AI Act is cross-sectoral and creates new regulatory and enforcement powers for existing bodies, including the European Commission, and also creates entirely new bodies such as the AI Board and the AI Office, while leaving EU Member States to appoint their own AI regulators tasked with enforcing the AI Act. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Department of Justice issued a joint statement clarifying that their existing authority covers AI, while various state regulators are also likely to have competence to regulate AI. International organizations including the OECD, the UN, and the G7 have issued AI principles, but these impose no legal obligations on businesses. In principle, these initiatives encourage consistency across members of each organization, but in practice this does not seem to have worked.
  4. Flexibility is a double-edged sword: In an effort to create AI regulations that can adapt to technological advances that have not yet been anticipated, many jurisdictions have sought to include substantial flexibility in those regulations, either by using deliberately high-level wording and policies, or by allowing for future interpretation and application by courts and regulators. This has the obvious advantage of prolonging the lifespan of such regulations by allowing them to be adapted to future technologies. However, it also creates the disadvantage of uncertainty because it leaves businesses uncertain of how their compliance obligations will be interpreted in the future. This is likely to mean that it is harder for businesses to know whether their planned implementations of AI will be lawful in the medium-to-long term and may make it harder to attract long-term AI investment in those jurisdictions.
  5. The overlap between AI regulation and other areas of law is complex: A substantial number of laws that are not directly focused on AI nevertheless apply to AI by association within their respective spheres, meaning that any use of AI will often trigger compliance issues and legal challenges even where there is not (yet) any enforceable AI-specific law. These areas of overlap include: IP (e.g., IP infringement issues with respect to AI model training data, and questions about copyright and patentability of AI-assisted inventions); antitrust; data protection (which adds restrictions to processing of personal data, and in some cases imposes special compliance obligations for processing carried out by automated means, including by AI); M&A (where AI innovation is driving dealmaking in many markets); financial regulation (where financial regulatory requirements may limit the ways in which AI can lawfully be deployed); litigation; digital infrastructure; securities; global trade; foreign direct investment; mining & metals; and so on. This overlap will mean that many businesses need to understand not just AI regulations in general, but also any rules that affect the use of AI in the context of the relevant sector or business activity.

Businesses in almost all sectors need to keep a close eye on these developments to ensure that they are aware of the AI regulations and forthcoming trends, in order to identify new opportunities and new potential business risks. But even at this early stage, the inconsistent approaches each jurisdiction has taken to the core questions of how to regulate AI is clear. As a result, it appears that international businesses may face substantially different AI regulatory compliance challenges in different parts of the world. To that end, this AI Tracker is designed to provide businesses with an understanding of the state of play of AI regulations in the core markets in which they operate. It provides analysis of the approach that each jurisdiction has taken to AI regulation and provides helpful commentary on the likely direction of travel.

Because global AI regulations remain in a constant state of flux, this AI Tracker will develop over time, adding updates and new jurisdictions when appropriate. Stay tuned, as we continue to provide insights to help businesses navigate these ever-evolving issues.

Articles

Australia

Voluntary AI Ethics Principles guide responsible AI development in Australia, with potential reforms under consideration.

Australia

Brazil

The enactment of Brazil's proposed AI Regulation remains uncertain with compliance requirements pending review.

Sao Paulo

Canada

AIDA expected to regulate AI at the federal level in Canada but provincial legislatures have yet to be introduced.

Canada

China

The Interim AI Measures is China's first specific, administrative regulation on the management of generative AI services.

China

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe is developing a new Convention on AI to safeguard human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the digital space covering governance, accountability and risk assessment.

European Union

European Union

The EU introduces the pioneering EU AI Act, aiming to become a global hub for human-centric, trustworthy AI.

 

European Union

France

France actively participates in international efforts and the EU AI Act negotiations, and proposes sector-specific laws.

Paris

G7

The G7's AI regulations mandate Member States' compliance with international human rights law and relevant international frameworks.

G7 flags

Germany

Germany evaluates AI-specific legislation needs and actively engages in international initiatives.

Germany

India

National frameworks inform India’s approach to AI regulation, with sector-specific initiatives in finance and health sectors.

India

Israel

Israel promotes responsible AI innovation through policy and sector-specific guidelines to address core issues and ethical principles.

Israel

Italy

Italy plays a prominent role in EU AI Act negotiations and engages in political discussions for future laws.

Milan

Japan

Japan adopts a soft law approach to AI governance but lawmakers advance proposal for a hard law approach to generative AI foundation models.

Tokyo

Norway

Position paper informs Norwegian approach to AI, with sector-specific legislative amendments to regulate developments in AI.

Norway

OECD

The OECD's AI recommendations encourage Member States to uphold principles of trustworthy AI.

country flags

Singapore

Singapore's AI frameworks guide AI ethical and governance principles, with existing sector-specific regulations addressing AI risks.

Singapore

Spain

Spain creates Europe's first AI supervisory agency and actively participates in EU AI Act negotiations.

Madrid

Switzerland

Switzerland's National AI Strategy sets out guidelines for the use of AI, and aims to finalize an AI regulatory proposal in 2025.

Switzerland

Taiwan

Draft laws and guidelines are under consideration in Taiwan, with sector-specific initiatives already in place.

Taiwan city

United Kingdom

The UK prioritizes a flexible framework over comprehensive regulation and emphasizes sector-specific laws.

London hero image

United Nations

The UN's new draft resolution on AI encourages Member States to implement national regulatory and governance approaches for a global consensus on safe, secure and trustworthy AI systems.

United Nations

United States

The US relies on existing federal laws and guidelines to regulate AI but aims to introduce AI legislation and a federal regulation authority.

New York city photo

Contacts

Tim Hickman
Partner
London
Erin Hanson
Partner
New York
Dr. Sylvia Lorenz
Partner
Berlin
Milan

AI Watch: Global regulatory tracker - Italy

Italy plays a prominent role in EU AI Act negotiations and engages in political discussions for future laws.

Insight
|
6 min read

Laws/Regulations directly regulating AI (the “AI Regulations”)

Currently, there are no specific laws, statutory rules, or regulations in Italy that directly regulate AI, and Italy is not expected to enact its own general, far-reaching AI regulation. As for all EU Member States, the EU AI Act will likely be Italy’s central general and cross-sectoral AI legislation.

There are currently no sector-specific laws specifically regulating AI in Italy.

Status of the AI Regulations

The EU AI Act is addressed separately here.

As noted above, there are no laws or regulations in Italy that directly regulate AI. However, since 2021, the Italian Data Protection Authority (DPA) has set up a specific organizational unit dedicated to artificial intelligence. In a recent statement of March 25, 2024, the Chairman of the DPA indicated that the authority possesses the necessary competence and independence to implement the European Artificial Intelligence Act, in line with the objective of ensuring a high level of protection on fundamental rights1. Furthermore, Italian courts and regulators have begun to interpret existing laws with regard to AI. 

Other laws affecting AI

There are various laws that do not directly seek to regulate AI, but may affect the development or use of AI in Italy, such as:

  • The GDPR and the Italian Data Privacy Code (Legislative Decree no. 196/2003) 
  • EU and Italian competition law (Articles 101 and 102 TFEU and Law no. 287/1990) 
  • The Italian Consumer Code (Legislative Decree no. 206/2005) 

Intellectual property laws that may also affect several aspects of AI development and use

Definition of “AI”

As noted above, there are currently no specific laws or regulations in Italy that directly regulate AI.  Accordingly, no definition of AI is currently recognized through Italian national legislation. 

Territorial scope

As noted above, there are currently no specific laws or regulations in Italy that directly regulate AI. Accordingly, there is no specific territorial scope at this stage.

Sectoral scope 

As noted above, there are currently no specific laws or regulations in Italy that directly regulate AI. Accordingly, there is no specific sectoral scope at this stage.

The Italian Data Protection Authority has, nevertheless, issued guidance on the use of AI in several fields, such as:

Finally, the DPA carried out control activities on the so-called gig economy on the topic of deepfakes7 and smart assistants8.

Compliance roles

As noted above, there are currently no specific laws or regulations in Italy that directly regulate AI. However, according to a 2019 judgment, algorithmic decision-making in administrative procedures must account for:

  • Transparency regarding the existence of an automated decision and information on the logic used
  • Human involvement in the decision, if the decision produces legal effects concerning or significantly affecting a person
  • Ensuring non-discrimination through implementing adequate technical and organizational measures9

Core issues that the AI Regulations seek to address

As noted above, there are currently no specific laws or regulations in Italy that directly regulate AI. Nevertheless, Italy’s highest administrative court has sought to address the issues relating to transparency, human oversight and non-discrimination in a 2019 judgement relating to algorithmic decision-making in administrative procedures.10

The Italian government also released the National AI Strategy (2022-2024), which identifies three areas of action, namely: (i) to strengthen expertise and attract talent in order to develop an AI ecosystem; (ii) to increase funding for advanced research in AI; (iii) to encourage the adoption and the application of AI, both in public administration (PA) and in productive sectors in general.11 The Italian government has also stressed the need to ensure, inter alia, greater clarity with respect to coordination with sector regulations, in particular banking and insurance. It also proposed a system of self-assessment by the companies of AI systems, through guidelines or a repository of examples, and supported the definition of burdens and obligations along the value chain of AI systems, especially for SMEs.

Risk categorization

As noted above, there are currently no specific laws or regulations in Italy that directly regulate AI. Accordingly, there is currently no risk categorization of AI in Italy, except for those that will be introduced by the EU AI Act.

Key compliance requirements

As noted above, there are currently no specific laws or regulations in Italy that directly regulate AI. Nevertheless, and as noted above, Italy’s highest administrative court indicated that key compliance requirements include:

  • Ensuring transparency regarding the existence of an automated decision and information on the logic used
  • Ensuring human involvement in the decision, if the decision produces legal effects concerning or significantly affecting a person
  • Ensuring non-discrimination through implementing adequate technical and organizational measures

Regulators

As noted above, there are currently no specific laws or regulations in Italy that directly regulate AI. As such, the regulation of AI is, for the time being, left to pre-existing regulators. Notably, the Italian Data Protection Authority has already intervened to regulate two AI companies for breaches of data protection regulation.

Enforcement powers and penalties

As noted above, there are currently no specific laws or regulations in Italy that directly regulate AI. The EU AI Act will establish the powers and penalties available to regulators of AI, but that detail is not discussed here.

In the interim, enforcement powers and penalties are set out in pre-existing legislation. The Italian Data Protection Authority, for example, has already used the enforcement powers at its disposal in several cases.

1 Statement of March 25, 2024, of the President of the DPA, who submitted observations to the Presidents of the Italian Senate and Chamber of Deputies and to the Prime Minister after the final approval of EU AI Act. 
2
The Garante’s guidance on data protection when AI is used in healthcare.
3 See
https://www.garanteprivacy.it/web/guest/home/docweb/-/docweb-display/docweb/9309458 
4 See
https://www.garanteprivacy.it/web/guest/home/docweb/-/docweb-display/docweb/9575877 
5 DPA’s opinion no. 452 of December 22, 2021. 
6 Decalogue of October 10, 2023. 
7 Vademecum on deepfake as of December 2022.
8 DPA’s Advice on Smart Assistants, as of March 2021.
9 See
Consiglio di Stato sez. VI, 13/12/2019, decision no. 8472.
10 See
Consiglio di Stato sez. VI, 13/12/2019, decision no. 8472.
11 See
the National AI Strategy (2022-2024). In terms of AI regulation, the National AI Strategy calls for a radical update in terms of: (i) strengthen the AI research base and associated funding; (ii) promote measures to attract talent; (iii) improve technology transfer process; (iv) increase the adoption of AI among business and PA, fostering the creation of innovative companies. The recent National AI Strategy also aims to align all IA policies related to data processing, aggregation, sharing and exchange, as well as to data security, with the National Cloud Strategy and with ongoing initiatives at the European level, starting with the European Data Strategy and the recent proposals for a Data Governance Act and a regulation on artificial intelligence.

White & Case means the international legal practice comprising White & Case LLP, a New York State registered limited liability partnership, White & Case LLP, a limited liability partnership incorporated under English law and all other affiliated partnerships, companies and entities.

This article is prepared for the general information of interested persons. It is not, and does not attempt to be, comprehensive in nature. Due to the general nature of its content, it should not be regarded as legal advice.

© 2024 White & Case LLP

Top