Media Statement: NSW Council for Civil Liberties Urges Stricter AI Regulation Following Australian Government's Announcement

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) acknowledges the Australian Government's recent announcement in response to the consultation on responsible AI regulation in Australia. While we appreciate the government's efforts to address the challenges posed by artificial intelligence, we have some concerns about the proposed voluntary guidelines for users, which risks putting Australia behind the pace set by the European Union in AI regulation.

In our comprehensive submission to the inquiry, NSWCCL highlighted the imperative for robust AI regulation to protect civil liberties in the face of rapid technological advancements. We advocated for the establishment of a statutory office of an AI Safety Commissioner to spearhead regulation, research new AI risks, and coordinate responses across various government bodies and agencies.

Our submission also emphasized the urgency to reform the existing patchwork of legislation governing AI, with a specific focus on enhancing privacy protections for citizens. We called for the introduction of bespoke AI regulation that adopts a risk-based approach, incorporating graduated obligations for AI developers, deployers, and users based on the associated risk.

NSWCCL's proposed framework included transparency requirements applicable to all AI developers with more onerous obligations for public sector organizations using AI and Automated Decision Making (ADM). We propose a structured regime rather than a voluntary code with specific compliance responsibilities for developers, deployers, and users.

While NSWCCL welcomes the government's response, we express reservations about the reliance on voluntary guidelines for users. Voluntary agreements with the industry may pose a significant threat to robust AI regulation and could potentially lag behind the more stringent measures being adopted globally, particularly by the European Union.

"We appreciate the government's recognition of the importance of AI regulation, but we urge for a stronger response in regulating the industry," said NSW Council for Civil Liberties spokesperson Michelle Falstein. "A more assertive regulatory framework is essential to protect the public interest and maintain Australia's standing in the global landscape of responsible AI governance."

NSWCCL remains committed to advocating for a regulatory environment that balances technological innovation with the protection of civil liberties and fundamental rights.