The European Parliament, the EU Council and the European Commission today start interinstitutional negotiations on the AI Act. As a coalition of over 2000 children’s rights, parents’ and mental health stakeholder organisations representing some 200 million EU children, citizens and experts, we call on negotiators not to miss this last chance to protect children and urge the Parliament rapporteurs and the Spanish Presidency to recognise their specific rights, needs and vulnerabilities, and ensure that AI in the EU is safe for them, by design and default.
Amidst increasing reports of children becoming collateral damage of the rise of AI, the current AI Act draft falls short of protecting children and recognise their specific vulnerabilities, despite its commitment to a human-centric and ethical development of AI based on EU values and the public interests of health, safety and fundamental rights, including those set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its General Comment 25. We thus ask EU negotiators to ensure the Act delivers on its promise to both this generation of innovators, and those to come. We ask them to recognise children’s specific rights, needs and vulnerabilities, by listing AI systems specifically intended to be used to shape the education or cognitive and emotional development of children in under Annex III, and clarify explicitly that children are a specific group protected by the ban on AI systems exploiting vulnerabilities, as per the European Commission’s proposal.