The U.K. government’s backtracking on plans to allow text and data mining for any purpose has come as a surprise to some, who say the country is positioning itself as a global AI superpower. The plans, which were announced earlier this year, have been met with criticism from privacy activists who say they could lead to widespread surveillance of citizens. However, the government has since backpedaled on the proposals saying that they will only be allowed if they are “strictly necessary” in order to fight crime or terrorism.
The new rules concern copyrighted works and make it so that internet businesses will have to take measures to ensure that their platforms aren’t used for piracy. Many in the creative industries are worried about how this will impact their income, and some have even gone as far as to say that these new regulations could amount to price fixing.
There are a number of ways to get around the prohibitive cost of data mining. Some researchers use public datasets that have been made available without charge, while others make use of crowd-sourcing platforms, where volunteers can contribute their data in return for rewards. There are also a number of open source software tools that make it easier for researchers to access and process large datasets.
The U.K.’s decision to loosen restrictions around data and text mining represents a shift in how the country plans to encourage commercial AI development. As such, it is hoped that this change will help spur innovation across a range of sectors, including finance, health care, and manufacturing.
An objection to the proposed exception was that it would mean that rightsholders would be able to access any data generated through research and academic activity, even if they did not have a contract with the researcher. This could lead to large scale infringements of copyright, as researchers could indiscriminately share data without permission from the rights holders. The IPA’s response was that there would be no opt-outs for rightsholders; instead, they would need to negotiate agreements with each researcher in order to make sure their data was protected. This raised concerns among some sectors of industry, who feared that this might lead to an increase in piracy and infringement.
The U.K.’s potential introduction of an initial public offering for music services has raised concerns from both the government and the opposition. The MP Julia Lopez is “fairly confident” that the plans will not proceed, but the House of Lords Communications Committee warns that the £115 billion pre-pandemic value of music industry could be undermined if plans go ahead.
In response to the outcry over its controversial plans, the U.K. has now decided that it will not be implementing its proposed Digital Britain bill after all. This is a major victory for those opposed to the bill, who have been vocal in their opposition and campaigned tirelessly against it. It is now clear that the U.K. is unwilling to go down this road and pursue even more aggressive measures towards online censorship and control.
It seems that the Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation may have had a change of heart about the proposals set out in his initial document. This is after members of the public voiced their concerns during a consultation period which was not long enough to properly take into account their input.
The U.K.’s decision not to proceed with plans for a hard Brexit has been attributed to recent political turmoil, though something as simple as a lack of parliamentary support may have been the real cause. One MP who asked how things were going said that everything was still up in the air and that they would not be proceeding until everything was finalized, but it is clear that this process is far from over.
During the run up to the UK’s Brexit referendum, both Lopez and Freeman were staunch advocates for remaining in the European Union. After the results of the referendum were clear, they agreed that the proposals submitted, approved and published did not meet with the expected support. This fact was revealed after Freeman left Government, which is likely why they did not approve them during a time of political turmoil.
It would appear that one of the major concerns for the U.K. regarding its relationship with AI is ensuring that it retains its position as a leader in the field, while protecting creators and businesses from potential pitfalls. These remarks suggest that government officials are currently reevaluating their current policy framework in order to ensure both of these aims are met effectively.
In light of the rapid advancements in AI, governments are beginning to grapple with how to best use this technology to enhance public services and improve overall governance. While there are fears that large businesses and other organizations will dominate the AI field, many experts feel that the technology can be used to benefit everyone. The challenge for government is determining how best to harness AI’s potential while protecting citizens’ privacy and safety.