UK Government’s new AI white paper confirms sector-by-sector approach to regulation

The UK Government today (29 March) published a white paper that sets out its blueprint for regulating artificial intelligence. Instead of giving responsibility for AI governance to a single new regulator, the Government confirms that it will empower existing regulators such as the Health and Safety Executive, Equality and Human Rights Commission, and Competition and Markets Authority to come up with tailored, context-specific approaches to suit the way AI is being used in their sectors.

The white paper outlines five principles that the regulators should consider: safety, security and robustness; transparency and explainability; fairness; accountability and governance; and contestability and redress.

Over the next 12 months, regulators will issue practical guidance to organisations, as well as tools and resources such as risk assessment templates to set out how to implement these principles in their sectors.

The Government says that £2m will fund a new sandbox – a trial environment where businesses can test how regulation could be applied to AI products and services, to support innovators bringing new ideas to market without being blocked by “rulebook barriers.”

The approach sets the UK apart from the European Union where The AI Act is set to regulate artificial intelligence and its use throughout the bloc. Anyone who provides a service or product that uses AI will fall within the scope of the forthcoming Act, which will cover systems that can generate output such as content, predictions, recommendations, or decisions influencing environments.

Tim Wright, a partner and specialist tech and AI regulation lawyer at law firm Fladgate said: “The regulatory principles set out in the White Paper simply confirm the Government’s preferred approach which they say will encourage innovation in the space without imposing undue burden on businesses developing and adopting AI while encouraging fair and ethical use and protecting individuals.

“Time will tell if this sector by sector approach has the desired effect. What it does do is put the UK on a completely different approach from the EU, which is pushing through a detailed rulebook backed up by a new liability regime and overseen by a single super AI regulator.”

You can read the white paper here.