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Sabotaging Success: Crushing the Dreams of AI Startups Through One UK Legislative Bill

Did you know that a key UK Bill is being debated in the House of Lords and it’s only a few steps away from obtaining the Royal Ascent?

For UK Board directors, startup founders, and everyone working in AI risk oversight, data privacy, financial services, open banking and open finance etc … Please note below an example of the concerns raised about this Bill that has ALREADY passed through the Parliament (transcript of debate)

“This is where the Bill is most disappointing. As the Ada Lovelace Institute tells us in its excellent briefing, the Bill does not provide any new oversight of cutting-edge AI developments, such as biometric technologies or foundation models, despite well-documented gaps in existing legal frameworks. Will the Minister be coming forward with anything in Committee to address these gaps?

While we welcome the change from an Information Commissioner to a broader information commission, the Bill further weakens the already limited legal safeguards that currently exist to protect individuals from AI systems that make automated decisions about them in ways that could lead to discrimination or disadvantage—another lost opportunity.

[…] The rollout of ChatGPT-4 now makes it much easier for employers to quickly and easily develop algorithmic tools to manage staff, from hiring through to firing. We may also want to provide safeguards over public sector use of automated decision-making tools.

The latter is of particular concern when reading the legal opinion of Stephen Cragg KC on the Bill. He says that:“A list of ‘legitimate interests’ (mostly concerning law and order, safeguarding and national security) has been elevated to a position where the fundamental rights of data subjects (including children) can effectively be ignored where the processing of personal data is concerned … The Secretary of State can add to this list without the need for primary legislation, bypassing important Parliamentary controls”.

There's a glimmer of hope that crucial corrections will be integrated into the final Bill, but expectations are low. With the process reaching its late stages, making substantial changes seems unlikely. The passage of this Bill through the House of Commons leaves one wondering about the decision-making process.

To ensure the prosperity of the UK and its economic growth, it is imperative to establish a robust framework that prioritises the protection of personal data, encompassing sensitive personal financial information. This commitment is not only essential for safeguarding a fundamental aspect of the British way of life but also pivotal in preventing the transformation of the nation into a surveillance society.

Any deviation from this commitment poses significant risks, potentially stifling innovation, impeding business development, curtailing economic contributions, and diminishing the appeal of the UK as a safe place to raise our children. Such a missed opportunity could result in adverse consequences for the country.

Surveillance and the erosion of personal privacy do not pave the way for economic growth, contrary to historical evidence. It is not surprising that notably, the United States is currently experiencing a surge in personal privacy rules and regulations at the state level, while the European Union's regulations emphasise rights such as redress and data protection.

Regrettably, the current UK government has taken a different approach. It has been diminishing the authority of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). The absence of appropriate legislation to safeguard the rights of citizens and residents further contributes to the UK's isolation and by implications the isolation of the startups created in the UK. The lack of comprehensive regulation, including regulations related to artificial intelligence (AI), creates an environment reminiscent of the wild west. This situation ultimately hampers the international business growth potential of UK startups, which will not be fit to expand beyond the UK, which is a small market. While other nations are aligning their regulatory frameworks, the UK risks becoming an outsider, undermining its startups’ appeal on the global stage.

These developments are concerning, particularly considering the assumption that the UK aspires to be competitive and attract talent. The current trajectory, reminiscent of self-sabotage, may hinder the nation's progress, its business interests and global standing.

That's would be sabotaging our success.


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