Spain: New artificial intelligence agency must put "human rights and social justice at the centre"


An open letter signed by 60 organisations from Spain and beyond, including Statewatch, calls on the Spanish government to ensure that civil society groups and independent experts have a say in designing the recently-proposed Spanish Agency for the Supervision of Artificial Intelligence (AESIA). The letter calls for "a clear and a clear and defined civil society participation strategy in the processes and policy development related to Artificial Intelligence," in order to put "human rights and social justice at the centre."

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Text of the letter (available in English, español and català)

Civil society organizations claim our role to the Spanish Agency for the Supervision of Artificial Intelligence (Agencia Española de Supervisión de Inteligencia Artificial, AESIA)

We are at a crucial moment, where artificial intelligence is determining the automation of society, the course of democracies and the welfare of the people. The technical complexity of algorithmic procedures, together with their social impact, requires a cross-cutting, multi­sectorial and participatory response from society.

For this reason, the proposal to create the Spanish Agency for the Supervision of Artificial Intelligence in 2022 is welcome news. Moreover, Spain will assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2023 and has also offered to be a pilot country to examine the new regulation of artificial intelligence that is currently being discussed in Europe. The agency is, therefore, a historic opportunity to put Spain at the forefront of innovation in strict respect for human rights.

Therefore, it would be incomprehensible for the government not to take advantage of the opportunity offered by civil society organisations to create an agency that is up to the challenges we face today. For this reason, we, the undersigned organisations and collectives, demand:

  • The government should takes the opportunity to draw on the knowledge and experience of civil society organisations already working on these issues, by involving them in the process of designing, establishing and setting the aims and objectives of the State Agency for Supervision of Artificial Intelligence.
  • The Agency should exercise prudential supervision, guaranteeing the fairness of algorithmic processes, accountability for their negative and/or discriminatory impact and ensuring transparency. The Agency's action should primarily target public and private entities that develop and implement algorithms.
  • The Agency should be an independent body, transparent in its entire structure, composition, and mission remit. Furthermore, it should promote the transparency, auditability and explainability of algorithms and information systems to society through easily understandable and accessible tools and information.
  • Given these demands, the undersigned organisations call for a clear and defined civil society participation strategy in the processes and policy development related to artificial intelligence. We demand formal and established channels of dialogue with the government and encourage a public debate about the governance of algorithms that puts respect for human rights and social justice at the center.

Drafted by, Algorace, Fundación Eticas, CIVIO, Observatorio Trabajo, Algoritmos y Sociedad, Komons y Algorights

Signed by

Mujeres Supervivientes
European Center for Not-for-Profit Law
Interferencias por los derechos digitales
Associació Pangea -Coordinadora Comunicació per a la Cooperació
Novact. Instituto Internacional por la Acción Noviolenta
Colectic Irídia -Centre per la Defensa dels Drets Humans
Colectivo Agar, espacio de investigación y encuentro desde la diversidad
Panoptykon Foundation
Calala Fondo de Mujeres
Servei Civil Internacional de Catalunya
SETEM Catalunya
Fundación Hay Derecho
Sociedad Española de Documentación e Información Científica ACICOM (ASSOCIACIÓ CIUTADANIA I COMUNICACIÓ)
Sant Just Solidari
SUDS -Associació Internacional de Solidaritat i Cooperació
Fundación Platoniq. Creatividad & Democracia
Fundación Visualización para la Transparencia (ViT)/Fundació Visualització per a la Transparència (ViT)/Visualization for Transparency Foundation (ViT)
SOS Racisme Catalunya
Confederación de Consumidores y Usuarios
ACICOM (Associació Ciutadania i Comunicació)
Access Info Europe
AAV Associació d'Arxivers i Gestors de Documents Valencians
Col·legi Oficial de Bibliotecaris i Documentalistes de la Comunitat Valenciana (COBDCV)
SED -Solidaritat Educació Desenvolupament
Fair Trials
Bit Lab
Cultural Cooperativa
Observatorio DESC
Observatorio del Impacto Social y Ético de la Inteligencia Artificial (OdiseIA)
Taxi Project 2.0
aFFaC (Associacions Federades de Famílies d'Alumnes de Catalunya) Rights International Spain
Ass. Internacional Enginyeria Sense Fronteres
Sepra, SCC
Equipo Implementación Decenio Afrodescendiente España
Associació Catalana per a la Defensa dels Drets Humans European Digital Rights (EDRi)
Plataforma por la libertad de Información

Link to sign up:

Image: Andrew Macgill, CC BY 2.0

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