August 10, 2020

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India recognises privacy as crucial when AI is involved

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Officials have confirmed that the Indian government is working towards constituting a legal framework for the adoption of large-scale AI systems. The government has noted that the first step to achieve this is for the Supreme Court to identify privacy as a fundamental right.

According to the secretary of the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), when the government talks about whether it is ready to get into the AI journey, it is looking at going there in stages, and the first stage is having privacy recognised is a fundamental right.

Consumers’ fear regarding the privacy of their data is particularly heightened when the data is handled by companies, especially social networking platforms, as there are unaware of how their data is being used by these large companies.

The secretary said the need for privacy laws is critical, specifically to address the role AI has in helping these companies analyse a large pool of consumer data, especially for advertising purposes. A privacy law with regards to data protection will be enacted by the government soon.

The director of IIT-Hyderabad said that experts have drafted several papers and reports on AI and it is time to develop the technology in India with adequate funding.

The country’s most comprehensive data protection standards are found in the ITA and are known as the Information Technology “Reasonable security practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information” Rules.

The Rules explain the rights an individual has regarding their information. Among other things, the Rules define “sensitive personal information’ and require that any corporate body must publish an online privacy policy, provide individuals with the right to access and correct their information, provide individuals the ability to withdraw consent, and put in place reasonable security practices.

Since 2010, there has been an increasing recognition by both the government and the public that India needs privacy legislation. One that addresses the collection, processing, and use of personal data, specifically.

The push for data protection standards has come both from the industry and from the public, that has voiced increasing concerns that government projects that collect and use personal data are presently not properly regulated and are collecting and processing data in such a way that abuses individual privacy.

The need for regulated privacy laws is growing as the government plans to implement AI technology in a number of services and programmes. One of these areas is defence. Indian scientists have been working on all-terrain AI-enabled robots that might be used to patrol the international border of the country.

The robot will be equipped with sensors and programmed to communicate with the control centre. The primary objective of the border patrol robots will be to save the lives of security personnel deployed for border surveillance.

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