France Opposes EU AI Restrictions After Binance Approval Allegedly Harmed Citizens
French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that the new European Union (EU) artificial intelligence (AI) bill will stifle innovation. His comments come shortly after reports on how previous attempts by France to court innovation through Binance allegedly harmed certain members of the French population.
Emmanuel Macron has argued that the new AI rules, agreed to in principle last week by EU lawmakers, will regulate French AI innovators out of existence. Companies like Mistral, a Paris AI startup, may become one of the victims of an overly-enthusiastic regulatory regime that will leave France behind.
French AI Caught Between US and China
Macron and leaders from Germany and Italy plan to oppose the passage of the new bill in the weeks ahead. The rules prohibit using AI to create social scores based on peoples’ appearances or behavior. They also impose transparency requirements on artificial intelligence frameworks like OpenAI’s latest Generative Pre-Trained Transformer model.
The bill has received pushback from industry groups like DigitalEurope for making compliance expensive. Cecilia Bonefield-Dahl, a senior official, said companies may spend more on legal costs than key employees.
But France has had runs-in with human rights organizations opposing the invasion of privacy using technology. Facial recognition, for example, which is banned under the EU’s proposed legislation, was blocked by La Quadrature du Net in the south of France for its intended testing in high schools.
However, the national government has repeatedly disregarded rulings from top EU courts prohibiting mass data retention. Next year’s 2024 Paris Olympics will employ AI surveillance cameras as the region battles the US and China for technological supremacy. According to Côte d’Azur University professor Caroline Lequesne,
“Surveillance technologies are a Trojan horse for artificial intelligence. Europe is caught between the stranglehold of China and the US.”
Binance Approval Allegedly Harmed People
The same could be said for France’s forays into crypto. France was one of the major European economies to embrace Binance before US authorities charged the exchange. At the same time, US lawmakers stymied progress while China banned most crypto activities.
Binance invested $108 million into France’s crypto industry in 2021. The financial regulator, Autorité des Marchés Financiers, granted it a license in 2022 to make France a “European hub of the crypto assets ecosystem,” according to Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.
However, even in this space, the government has courted controversy. Binance allegedly used its basic permissions to bait students from poor regions like Aulnay-sous-Bois and Montreuil into its blockchain education program. While marketed as a benevolent act of charity, French parliament member Aurore Lalucq called it “more like a marketing operation than anything else.”
One Macron parliamentary majority member recently said the government didn’t regret licensing Binance, arguing that it symbolized a sentiment shift toward innovation. Shortly after, CZ stepped down, and US authorities fined Binance. What the outcome of Macron’s opposition to the AI bill in the name of innovation will mean for the French population remains to be seen.
Read more: 7 Best Binance Alternatives in 2024
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