Indian Government Reverses Course on AI Product Approval Requirement

The Indian government has reversed its decision to require Internet intermediaries and platforms to obtain approval before launching AI products, just a fortnight after issuing the advisory. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had initially issued the advisory in response to concerns about the potential misuse of AI, particularly in the context of the electoral process.

The advisory, issued on March 1, had raised eyebrows, especially in light of controversies surrounding Google’s AI platform’s responses to queries about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, the requirement faced criticism from various quarters, prompting Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar to clarify that it was primarily intended for large platforms and did not apply to startups.

On March 15, the government withdrew the advisory and replaced it with a new directive. The fresh advisory emphasizes the importance of appropriately labeling AI-generated content, especially content susceptible to misuse. While retaining some provisions from the earlier advisory, such as the consent popup mechanism, the new directive focuses on ensuring that AI models and platforms do not exhibit bias or discrimination that could impact the electoral process.

According to the new advisory, intermediaries and platforms must ensure that their computer resources, including AI models, do not permit bias or discrimination. They are also required to inform users about the consequences of dealing with unlawful information, including potential access restrictions, suspension, termination of access, or legal repercussions.

The reversal of the requirement for pre-launch approval reflects a recalibration of the government’s approach to regulating AI in India. By prioritizing transparency and accountability in AI development and deployment, the government aims to mitigate potential risks while fostering innovation in the technology sector.

Moving forward, it will be essential for intermediaries and platforms to adhere to the guidelines outlined in the advisory to ensure the responsible and ethical use of AI technology. As AI continues to play an increasingly prominent role in various sectors, regulatory frameworks that balance innovation with safeguards against misuse will be crucial for India’s digital future.


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