September 19, 2017

Data protection, IT security and liability for automated systems

In the course of ongoing digitalization, we see new ways to use automated systems as they become increasingly autonomous. There are already many different applications for these systems today, ranging from industrial robots and advanced driver-assistance systems to autopilots in commercial aircrafts as well as smartphone apps. Based on recent developments it has become clear that we will see automation continue to advance in line with new breakthroughs in the field of artificial intelligence. The keyword here is machine learning.

Innovation-friendly regulations for more added value

In 2015, the Council on the Future of the Bavarian Industry emphasized the importance that Bavaria as an industrial location creates innovation-friendly regulations regarding the use of automated systems in order to generate as much added value as possible in Bavaria and Germany. Legislators have already taken initial steps to pave the way for self-driving cars with more to come. And they have passed a new regulation laying down the rules for the use of drones.

This process always begins with an analysis of the current legal framework. On the one hand, the idea is to identify obstacles in the development and use of these new technologies, and, on the other hand, to look for legal loopholes that may need to be sealed in order to protect users. The Bavarian Industry Association (vbw) has done exactly this in three position papers on the topic of autonomous driving:

  • The Future of Autonomous Driving - Removing Legal Barriers
  • Autonomous Driving - Data Privacy and Data Security
  • Enhancing Infrastructure for Autonomous Driving

A study conducted by Professor Dirk Heckmann addresses these topics broadening our perspective on new ways to use the technology. The study focuses on data privacy, data security and liability issues, clarifying the extent to which current legislation is able to precisely define and regulate the technological advancement of intelligent machines such as robots and drones and their impact.

In its conclusion, the study confirms the Council on the Future of the Bavarian Industry on its recommendations for 2017. At the moment, the Council does not see a need for special “robot legislation” and would not advise that such legislation be passed. It does, however, recommend selective regulation, for instance regarding network operator liability for disturbances and interruptions or specific issues involved in IT security legislation.

Benefits of new technologies outweigh the risks

These technological advancements, e.g. increasingly versatile robots, bring about tremendous advantages accompanied by risks that, to date, can be managed. As time goes by, new technology may even be able to reduce many of the risks we currently face. As with the progress currently being made in the field of artificial intelligence, it makes sense to have a positive outlook toward technological advancements and to continue monitoring these developments closely so that we are able to respond quickly if needed.


Christine Völzow

Büroleiterin des Präsidenten und des Hauptgeschäftsführers

Christine Völzow