Contribute to the ICO’s consultation on generative AI

The ICO has today launched a consultation series on generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how data protection law applies in this area.

The ICO has previously said that the GDPR principles apply to AI, just as they do to any other type of processing of personal data. While the UK is not considering AI legislation for the time being, many UK organisations operating EU-wide will soon have to comply with the EU’s AI Act which is now being finalised after agreement has been reached at the political level. The ICO and other regulators will need to start implementing the UK’s AI policy.

The ICO’s first AI consultation, which runs until 1 March, examines when it is lawful to train generative AI models on personal data scraped from the web. The consultation focuses on the legitimate interests lawful basis (Article 6(1)(f) of the UK GDPR), which the ICO says may apply in some circumstances for collecting training data.

Stephen Almond, Executive Director for Regulatory Risk said:

“This call for views will help the ICO provide industry with certainty regarding its obligations and safeguard people’s information rights and freedoms.”

More generally on data scraping and AI, the ICO lodged an appeal in November 2023 against the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) judgment of October 2023 on facial recognition software developer Clearview AI. The Commissioner considers that the Tribunal incorrectly interpreted the law when finding Clearview’s processing fell outside the reach of UK data protection law on the basis that it provided its services to foreign law enforcement agencies.

Information Commissioner, John Edwards, said at the time: “It is my job to protect the data rights of the people of the United Kingdom and it is my view that there are too many who are being affected by the sheer scale and intrusiveness of Clearview’s mass scraping of personal information.”

Future ICO consultations will examine issues such as the accuracy of generative AI outputs and will be launched throughout the first half of 2024.

See: ICO consultation series on generative AI and data protection

This announcement comes at the perfect time to give you an opportunity to join your peers at Ensuring fair and lawful AI implementation PL&B’s Roundtable next week on 23 January in London to gather views and contribute to a submission to the ICO.