Today, the Computer & Communications Industry Association submitted its comments to the European Commission’s public consultation “Civil liability – adapting liability rules to the digital age and artificial intelligence”. CCIA Europe acknowledges the Commission’s concerns that certain elements of emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) could pose new challenges to the application of liability rules. However, in our response, we warn the Commission against reviewing the already well-functioning civil liability framework as this could lead to overbroad and inflexible liability rules which may ultimately hamper AI development and deployment in the EU. In particular, we share the following recommendations:
- The current liability framework, together with EU Member States’ rules, already provides for a robust protection in terms of civil liability. The existing EU Product Liability Directive is technology-neutral and applies to all unsafe products, including those with embedded software. There is no real-world evidence showing that the current framework prevents consumers from seeking redress and compensation for damages caused by a digital product.
- The definition of ‘product’ should not be expanded to include intangible products (e.g. digital content and stand-alone software/AI systems). Applying strict liability is disproportionate and ill-suited to the properties of software and AI systems.
- Software updates are commonly used to extend the lives of digital products and address any software errors. Extending strict liability to software updates and refurbishments would disincentive software development and maintenance. This would also conflict with EU efforts to encourage sustainability in the circular economy.
- Extending the scope of the Directive to cover non-material damages, including psychological harm, would put a disproportionate burden over providers as these types of damages are less predictable and difficult to measure
- There is no evidence showing that the current burden of proof of the Directive places consumers at a disadvantage. Reversing the burden of proof could lead to frivolous and fraudulent claims and cause disproportionate harm to businesses with extensive liability claims.