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    IT Ministry Denies Information Regarding Responsible AI Submissions Citing Commercial Confidentiality: RTI

    The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has denied information under the Right to Information (RTI) regarding submissions for responsible AI frameworks.

    In January, MeitY issued an ‘Expression of Interest’ document seeking proposals for building tools and frameworks based on Responsible AI themes. It also said that the government would provide grant-in-aid support to at least 10 such research projects under the National Program on Artificial Intelligence (NPAI) and IndiaAI programs to promote ethical practices in the deployment of AI.

    MediaNama’s RTI:

    MediaNama had filed an RTI request with the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, asking for the following information:

    1. Copies of the ideas/proposals/comments received by the Ministry in response to the call for submissions.
    2. List of agencies/organizations that have received grants for research projects under the National Program on Artificial Intelligence (NPAI) and IndiaAI programs.

    The department declined to provide copies of the comments citing Section 8(1)d and Section 8(1)e of the RTI Act. Section 8(1)d exempts information “including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party”, unless a larger public interest warrants such disclosure.

    Section 8(1)e of the RTI Act exempts information “available to a person in his fiduciary relationship” unless a larger public interest warrants such disclosure. For the second question, the department replied “No such information available”.

    Why it matters:

    The Indian government has largely talked about incorporating AI for governance in different sectors, without specifically outlining a plan to address the areas of concern. In March, the government also approved the IndiaAI Mission, intended to promote research and development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in India, with a budgetary outlay of Rs. 10,371.92 crore. The budget will be invested in building “programs and partnerships across the public and private sectors” under the mission.

    The IT Ministry’s public call for submissions would have offered brief insights into what ‘Responsible AI’ would mean and the areas where an ethical AI framework would focus, in the Indian regulatory context. More importantly, access to the proposals and ensuing consultation would have allowed researchers, AI experts, and digital rights organizations to study the submissions and share their inputs for developing comprehensive AI frameworks.

    The US government conducted a public consultation on policies that can support better assessment of AI systems and how regulators can ensure AI accountability. It has also laid out detailed rules for the use of AI for governance by federal agencies. In comparison, there is no clarity about the Indian government’s approach to AI and oversight mechanisms to prevent AI-related harms.

    Based on investigations revealing how algorithmic decision-making for welfare delivery impacted people’s right to food and social security in India, Amnesty International published a report highlighting how the Right to Information was instrumental in accessing crucial data about how privately procured AI systems function.

    Ideally, given that these frameworks would determine how AI will be deployed for governance and welfare delivery among other use cases, access to information and participatory consultation becomes key to ensure transparency and accountability.

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    The post IT Ministry Denies Information Regarding Responsible AI Submissions Citing Commercial Confidentiality: RTI appeared first on MediaNama.

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