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Monday February 08, 2021

DG Justice Has Eight Safety Ideas for AI & Connected Products

A just-available December report from DG Justice and Consumers gave eight recommendations related to issues like artificial intelligence (AI) and connected products. The target was potential updates to the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD). The first was the most complex and involved revising the legal definition of safe product with three considerations:

  • Explicitly mentioning the connections between cybersecurity and product safety.

  • Clarifying that mental health can be an area of harm and that it needs more research.

  • Asserting that safety assessments should consider issues like "the evolving, learning and predictive functionalities of a product, and the impact of interconnected products."

The other seven suggestions in the report ( included:

  • Checking GPSC consistency with other law (like the machinery and toy safety directives), including ensuring against "grey zones, overlaps, and loopholes."

  • Checking the other EU laws for their abilities to protect consumer safety.

  • Updating the definition of product so it covers risks associated with software.

  • Reviewing and making future additions regarding the concept of substantial modification.

  • Asserting that safety expectations apply over entire anticipated product lifetimes.

  • Attempting to set minimum cybersecurity requirements, "acknowledging the challenge of defining the prescribed level of cybersafety."

  • Raising awareness of the need for "attention to the links between product safety, the protection of personal data and privacy of the users of those products."

On substantial modification, the report explains that one approach might involve:

"The question arises whether the provisions already existing in the GPSD are sufficient to cover this question: indeed Article 2(b) of the GPSD says that: (b) "safe product" shall mean any product which, under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use including duration and, where applicable, putting into service, installation and maintenance requirements, does not present any risk or only the minimum risks compatible with the product's use, considered to be acceptable and consistent with a high level of protection for the safety and health of persons…Consequently, any modification that would not match this definition would be considered as a substantial modification."

Alternatively, mandates might look at how changes affect intended functioning, the nature of any resulting hazard, and how the modification occurs (such as whether by consumers).