NEWS8 November 2023

UK risking being ‘left behind’ on AI regulation without new laws

AI News Public Sector UK

UK – The lack of proposals to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) in the King’s Speech risks the UK being ‘left behind’ other jurisdictions in governing the emerging technology, according to the Ada Lovelace Institute.


The King’s Speech, which took place on Tuesday 7th November, set out the government’s legislative agenda for the next term of parliament but did not include any laws on AI.

Michael Birtwistle, associate director at the Ada Lovelace Institute, said that this risked the UK dropping behind the US and EU, as well as other nations that were taking a tougher stance on AI governance.

He also highlighted the UK’s recent AI Safety Summit and the Bletchley Declaration on the risks and opportunities AI poses, but said the UK needed to go further.

“To properly deliver the protections we know the public want, empower regulators and ensure adequate routes to redress, there can be no substitute for legislation,” Birtwistle said.

He added: “It is true that the UK has some existing laws covering the uses of AI, such as data protection and equalities laws.
“However, these alone are not enough. Legal analysis shows that existing safeguards don’t properly protect people and in some areas are being weakened by this government.”

The lack of new proposals in the King’s Speech meant the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (DPDI Bill) currently going through parliament is now the sole legislative vehicle for influencing how AI is regulated in the UK, said Birtwistle.

The government’s white paper on AI regulation set out a number of principles for UK regulators to apply to the uses of AI systems, Birtwistle added, but emphasised these were not currently being placed on a statutory footing, meaning regulators have no legal obligation to consider them.

“The government should look again at this bill and the white paper through the lens of AI safety and the commitments in the Bletchley Declaration,” Birtwistle concluded.

“Without effective legislation, the government’s current approach will not ensure that AI works for people and society.”
The Data & Marketing Association (DMA) has also responded to the King’s Speech, calling for the DPDI Bill to be passed “without hesitation”.

Chris Combemale, chief executive at the DMA, said: “Data privacy reforms included within the DPDI Bill are key to unlocking business growth and realising the full potential of the UK digital economy; by further enabling businesses to use customer insights to simultaneously improve the productivity of businesses and create relevance for customers.

“Reforms will create a better balance between innovation and privacy, maintaining GDPR’s high levels of data protection while enabling scientific and technological innovation that will power the future economy.”