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Research projects

Private Rule-Making and European Governance of AI & Robotics, a WASP-HS project

About this project

Project information

Project status

In progress 2023 - 2028


Martin Ebers

Research subject

Private entities play a fundamental role in the way in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are governed. International, European and national Standard Developing Organizations (SDOs) have begun to develop standards for AI systems. At the same time, other private endeavors like the creation of codes of conduct, of self-regulatory arrangements, and the drafting and implementation of terms of service of platforms, have a notable impact in rulemaking in the digital age. In parallel, international Human Rights bodies, civil society organizations and scholars have called for the application of safeguards for Human Rights in the development and use of AI systems, especially in the context of automated content moderation by social media platforms.

Private rulemaking can have a significant impact on the establishment of uniform technical, but also legal and ethical requirements for AI systems. On the other hand, serious concerns arise surrounding excessive delegation of power in the hands of the private sector, lack of democratic control, insufficient involvement of interest groups and limited possibilities of judicial control. 

In addition, while International Human Rights Law establishes obligations of respect and guarantee just in the hands of States, it is growingly accepted as providing guidelines for companies’ conduct and signaled in EU legislation as a source to be taken into account in companies’ internal processes.

Against this background, the project will focus on two lines of work:

It will analyze the various (primarily legal) issues surrounding private rulemaking of AI systems, such as standardization and certification, taking into account also insights from other disciplines.

It will also analyze the principles applicable in terms of procedural human rights law safeguards for automated content moderation by looking at the solutions applied at corporate level and applicable rules within International Human Rights Law.

Research funding bodies

  • The Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program Humanities and Society (WASP-HS)