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2020 in Review: 8 New AI Regulatory Proposals from Governments

As part of our year-end series, Synced has compiled a global list of proposals, rules and regulatory frameworks for AI introduced in 2020.

This February, the European Commission released a white paper on Artificial Intelligence as part of an initiative to collect citizens’ and stakeholders’ views on AI-related policy and regulatory measures. The message is clear: AI is developing quickly, and a regulatory and investment-oriented approach is required to mitigate the risks associated with certain uses of these new technologies.


If we zoom out from the European landscape we see that AI is developing quickly almost everywhere. Across cultures and borders, in industries such as autonomous driving vehicles, face recognition software and drones, there are mounting security and privacy concerns among citizens, and governments are responding.

As part of our year-end series, Synced has compiled a global list of proposals, rules and regulatory frameworks for AI introduced in 2020.

Model AI Governance Framework (Model Framework)Second Edition

Introduced by: Personal Data Protection Commission (Singapore)

Domain: Artificial Intelligence

The Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) serves as Singapore’s primary authority on matters relating to personal data protection and represents the Singapore Government internationally on data protection related issues. On January 23, 2019, the PDPC released the first edition of its Model AI Governance Framework (Model Framework) for broader consultation, adoption and feedback. The Model Framework provides detailed and readily-implementable guidance to private sector organizations to address key ethical and governance issues when deploying AI solutions. By explaining how AI systems work, building good data accountability practices and creating open and transparent communication, the Model Framework aims to promote public understanding and trust in technologies. On January 21, 2020, the PDPC released the second edition of the Model Framework.

White Paper On Artificial Intelligence – A European approach to excellence and trust

Introduced by: European Commission

Domain: Artificial Intelligence

On February 19, 2020 the European Commission launched its official Consultation on Artificial Intelligence, with citizens and stakeholders invited to provide feedback until June 14. The public consultation process came with the white paper On Artificial Intelligence – A European Approach to Excellence and Trust. Intended to foster a robust European AI ecosystem and monitor the technology’s safety and liability aspects, the White Paper proposes:

  • Measures that will streamline research, foster collaboration between Member States and increase investment into AI development and deployment;
  • Policy options for a future EU regulatory framework that would determine the types of legal requirements that would apply to relevant actors, with a particular focus on high-risk applications.

Reimagining Regulation for the Age of AI: New Zealand Pilot Project White Paper

Introduced by: New Zealand Government and World Economic Forum (WEF)

Domain: Artificial Intelligence

The World Economic Forum is spearheading a multistakeholder, evidence-based policy project in partnership with the Government of New Zealand. The project aims at co-designing actionable governance frameworks for AI regulation. It is structured around three focus areas: 1) obtaining of a social licence for the use of AI through an inclusive national conversation; 2) the development of in-house understanding of AI to produce well-informed policies; and 3) the effective mitigation of risks associated with AI systems to maximize their benefits.

Executive Order on Promoting the Use of Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence in the Federal Government

Introduced by: The White House (US)

Domain: Artificial Intelligence

On December 3, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed the Executive Order on Promoting the Use of Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence in the Federal Government, which establishes guidelines to help Federal agency AI adoption more effectively deliver services to the American people and foster public trust in the technology. The order recognizes the potential for AI to improve government operations by reducing outdated or duplicative regulations, enhancing the security of Federal information systems and streamlining application processes. It also directs agencies to ensure that the design, development, acquisition and use of AI is done in a manner that protects privacy, civil rights, civil liberties and American values.

A Regulatory Framework for AI: Recommendations for PIPEDA Reform

Introduced by: Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC)

Domain: Artificial Intelligence

The OPC is calling for legislation that will allow Canada to reap the benefits of AI while upholding individuals’ fundamental right to privacy. Measures include amending the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) to:

  • allow personal information to be used for new purposes towards responsible AI innovation and for societal benefits
  • authorize these uses within a rights-based framework that would entrench privacy as a human right and a necessary element for the exercise of other fundamental rights
  • create a right to meaningful explanation for automated decisions and a right to contest those decisions to ensure they are made fairly and accurately
  • strengthen accountability by requiring a demonstration of privacy compliance upon request by the regulator
  • empower the OPC to issue binding orders and proportional financial penalties to incentivize compliance with the law
  • require organizations to design AI systems from their conception in a way that protects privacy and human rights

Proposal for a new UN Regulation on Uniform Provisions Concerning the Approval of Vehicles With Regards to Automated Lane Keeping System

Introduced by: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, Working Party on Automated/Autonomous and Connected Vehicles

Domain: Autonomous Driving Vehicles

The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) is the intergovernmental platform that defines technical requirements for the global automotive sector. The proposed regulation aims to establish uniform provisions concerning the approval of vehicles with regard to Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS), which, when activated, are in primary control of a vehicle’s lateral and longitudinal movement for extended periods without further driver command. This regulation is the first regulatory step for an automated driving system (as defined in ECE/TRANS/WP.29/1140) in traffic, and includes innovative provisions addressing the complexity related to system safety evaluation.

Final Rule on Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Over People

Introduced by: Federal Aviation Administration (US)

Domain: Drones

The Final Rule of the Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Over People is the next incremental step towards further integration of unmanned aircraft (UA) in the National Airspace System. The final rule allows routine operations of autonomous drones over people and routine operations at night under certain circumstances. The rule will eliminate the need for those operations to receive individual Part 107 waivers from the FAA.

Senate Bill 6280

Introduced by: Washington State Legislature (US)

Domain: Facial Recognition

Senate Bill 6280, Concerning the Use of Facial Recognition Services, was sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center) and signed into law by Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee. It prohibits the use of facial recognition technology for ongoing surveillance and limits its use to acquiring evidence of serious criminal offences following authorization of a search warrant.


Similar bills are under consideration in the US. In June, Democratic Senators and Representatives introduced the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, which would impose limits on the use of biometric surveillance systems such as facial recognition systems by federal and state government entities.

As governments continue developing policies and implementing rules and regulations governing the use of AI technologies, big tech companies have begun self-regulating. Although no US federal laws address the commercialization of facial recognition technologies, Microsoft President Brad Smith, speaking in a Washington Post Live online event this summer, said, “We will not sell facial-recognition technology to police departments in the United States until we have a national law in place, grounded in human rights, that will govern this technology.” The statement came amid heated anti-police protests in many US cities and followed similar pledges from IBM and Amazon.

As more industries and enterprises turn to AI for commercial use, research and development of new technologies will surely accelerate. Keeping pace will be a challenge for regulators tasked with developing the technical standards and regulations that will ensure the safe use of these technologies in the real world.


Reporter: Fangyu Cai | Editor: Michael Sarazen


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8 comments on “2020 in Review: 8 New AI Regulatory Proposals from Governments

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