Swiss Federal Council Launches AI Regulatory Regime Review

Switzerland has joined the growing number of countries reviewing possible regulatory approaches to AI. At its November 22, 2023 meeting, the Swiss Federal Council commissioned the Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy, and Communication (DETEC) to draft an overview of possible regulatory approaches by the end of 2024. The Federal Council intends to use DETEC’s analysis as the basis for issuing an AI regulation proposal in 2025.  As we wrote in our November 8 AI Regulation Update, since the public launch of Chat-GPT a year ago, governments around the world have been racing to catch up with the rapid progress of AI.

According to the Swiss Federal Council’s announcement, DETEC’s analysis will build on existing Swiss law to identify regulatory approaches compatible with the EU’s forthcoming AI Act, the Council of Europe’s AI Convention, and fundamental rights. The analysis will also consider the effects that various regulatory regimes have on technological standards, the economy, and governance.

The Swiss Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, specifically the Interdepartmental Coordination Group on EU Digital Policy, will review the EU regulations. Other governmental bodies will also be involved, including the so-called «Plateforme Tripartite», an OFCOM stakeholder exchange platform for topics relating to the internet, digital governance, and AI.

The EU’s proposals regarding the future AI Act contemplate analyzing and classifying AI systems according to the risk they pose to users. Under the EU’s proposal, systems considered a threat to people, such as cognitive behavioral manipulation, social scoring (i.e., classifying people based on behavior, socio-economic status, or personal characteristics), and real-time facial recognition, would be banned. High-risk systems, including those affecting critical infrastructure, education, employment, and law enforcement, would be subject to risk assessment and mitigation, as well as other regulations, before implementation. Limited risk systems, such as chatbots, would be subject to transparency obligations. The EU aims to reach agreement on a draft AI Act by the end of 2023.

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