Today, the EU Parliament adopted its position on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act. With 268 in favour, 300 against and 48 abstentions, key amendment 801 of the AI act concerning the use of AI for missing children was a close call. With many MEPs of all parties voting in favor of this crucial amendment for the protection and saving of missing children. This large number of votes in favour sends a strong signal to the European Commission and the European Council, as well as to the negotiators of EU parliament, in favor and support of the use of AI for missing children.

The AMBER Alert Europe Foundation has long advocated for the use of AI in the search for missing children, a position reflected in the EU Commission’s proposal for Article 5 of the AI Act and supported by the EU Council. More than 250,000 children are reported missing each year within the European Union, with a child vanishing every two minutes. The critical nature of these cases is underscored by research showing that 76% of abducted children who were found deceased were murdered within the initial three hours of their disappearance. This reality highlights the urgency and importance of using all available tools, including AI, in the search for missing children.

With the AI Act moving into the trilogues phase, involving negotiations between the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament, we call on the Commission and the Council to hold firm in their support for the use of AI in the search for missing persons and missing children. We also urge our many friends at the European Parliament to continue using their influence in the upcoming negotiations, taking into account the substantial support that exists within their ranks for this issue.

The many votes in European Parliament for key amendment 801 represents a clear call for further conversation and negotiation. We believe that this provides a unique opportunity to ensure that the final version of the AI Act includes the use of AI in the search for missing persons, safeguarding the fundamental rights of our most vulnerable citizens, while addressing the concerns of Parliament.

The stakes are high, and the opportunity is clear. Every year, over 250,000 children go missing within the European Union. The effective and ethical use of AI could make a significant difference in ensuring their safe return. We believe that it is both possible and essential to reconcile the benefits of AI with the need to respect and protect fundamental rights, and we are committed to advocating for this as the negotiations continue.