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15th March 2024 (11 Topics)

In issuing AI advisory, MEITY becomes a deity

Context:

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) recently issued an advisory concerning the regulation of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) in India. This advisory elicited criticism due to its ambiguous legal basis and vague directives, raising questions about the government's regulatory authority in this domain.

Legal Ambiguity and Enforcement Concerns:

  • Legal Standing: The primary issue surrounding MEITY's AI advisory stems from the ambiguity of its legal standing and enforcement mechanisms.
  • Regulatory Authority: Unlike regulatory bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), MEITY lacks clear residual powers under existing legislation, leading to uncertainty regarding the enforceability of its directives.
  • Term Ambiguity: The term "advisory" used by MEITY lacks a defined definition under the principal legislation empowering the ministry, further complicating the regulatory landscape and compliance expectations.

Escalation and Uncertainty in AI Regulation:

  • Regulatory Escalation: MEITY's advisory on AI represents an escalation in regulatory efforts, introducing a governance model that mandates licensing for AI models.
  • Undefined Terms: However, the terms and requirements outlined in the advisory, such as "bias prevention" and "unreliable AI," remain undefined under existing legislation, contributing to confusion among stakeholders.
  • Ministerial Response: Ministerial responses on social media platforms further exacerbate uncertainty, with vague clarifications and exemptions issued without formal documentation or legal grounding, highlighting the challenges in navigating India's evolving regulatory environment.
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