A PYMNTS Company

French Senators Criticize Government’s Role in EU AI Act Negotiations Amidst Allegations of Lobbyist Influence

 |  December 21, 2023

The ongoing negotiations surrounding the European Union’s AI Act have taken a contentious turn as French senators voiced their concerns over the government’s position. The focus of the criticism revolves around perceived inadequacies in copyright protection and alleged influence from a lobbyist with reported conflicts of interest, including former digital state secretary Cédric O.

The EU AI Act, slated to be the world’s first comprehensive regulation of artificial intelligence, has been a focal point for policymakers since the rise of advanced AI models like GPT-4, as exemplified by the AI system ChatGPT.

During a government question time on Wednesday, centrist senator Catherine Morin-Desailly accused Cédric O and the company Mistral of attempting to weaken the AI regulation bill proposed by the European Commission. Morin-Desailly claimed, “We know that Cédric O and Mistral influenced the French government’s position regarding the AI regulation bill, attempting to weaken it.”

The senator also raised concerns about the alleged conflicts of interest involving Cédric O, stating, “The press reported on the spectacular enrichment of the former digital minister, Cédric O. He entered the company Mistral, where the interests of American companies and investment funds are prominently represented. This financial operation is causing shock within the Intergovernmental Committee on AI you have established, Madam Prime Minister.”

Read more: EU Reaches ‘Milestone’ On Road To Regulating AI

In response to these accusations, Digital Minister Jean-Noël Barrot vehemently denied any wrongdoing, asserting, “It is the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life that ensures the absence of conflicts of interest among former government members.”

Barrot also refuted claims that France had become a spokesperson for private interests, arguing that the government “listened to all stakeholders as it is customary and relied solely on the general interest as our guiding principle.”

The allegations bring to light the challenges faced by regulators as they navigate the complex landscape of AI governance. As the world awaits the outcome of the EU AI Act negotiations, the role of lobbyists and their potential impact on shaping policies designed to regulate powerful AI models remains a topic of intense scrutiny.

Source: Euractiv