Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now widespread in many areas of daily life, from the automotive industry to medicine, commerce, and finance. However, the use of AI also involves a series of risks and legal challenges, including the issue of civil liability.
Civil liability is the legal discipline that regulates the obligation to compensate for damages caused to other parties. In the case of AI, civil liability can be attributed to different parties, depending on the circumstances of the specific case: the manufacturer of the AI, the owner of the AI, the user of the AI, etc.
European and Italian legislation provide some specific rules regarding the civil liability of AI. In particular, EU Regulation No. 2016/679 (GDPR) states that the data controller is liable to compensate for damages caused by unlawful processing of personal data. This means that if an AI uses personal data unlawfully and causes damage, the data controller may be held civilly liable for the damage caused. In Italy, Law No. 31 of 2019 introduced specific regulations regarding the civil liability of AI. The law states that the owner or user of an autonomous AI system is liable for damages caused by the system,
unless they can prove that they have taken all appropriate technical and organizational measures to prevent the damage.
Additionally, Italian law states that the manufacturer of the AI is civilly liable for damages caused by defects in the product, as provided by the product liability legislation. This means that if an AI has a design or production defect and causes damage, the manufacturer may be held civilly liable for the damage caused. In any case, the issue of civil liability of AI is still subject to debate and legal development, especially with regard to autonomous AI systems and their ability to make autonomous decisions without human control. It is therefore important for lawmakers to continue to closely monitor the development of technology and constantly update the rules regarding civil liability.
The European Commission published a consultation document in 2020 on possible options to adapt European legislation to the rapid evolution of AI. Among the issues addressed in the document is that of AI civil liability.
• In 2021, the European Parliament adopted a report on AI governance, which emphasized the importance of adequate regulation to ensure civil liability and transparency of AI.
• The need to formulate insurance policies to cover the risks related to the use of AI was also highlighted by the European Central Bank, which published a report on the impact of AI on financial institutions.
The report states that insurance can help mitigate the risks of civil liability associated with the use of AI.
• In Italy, the obligation to insure civil liability arising from the use of AI was introduced by law no. 128 of 2021. The law requires owners or users of autonomous AI systems to take out a specific insurance policy to cover the civil liability arising from their use.
In summary, the regulation of AI civil liability is a continuously evolving topic, and the need to formulate insurance policies to cover the risks associated with the use of AI is increasingly recognized at both European and national levels.
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