February 25, 2024

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Indonesia Ensuring Ethical AI Development

The Circular Letter of the Minister of Communication and Information Number 9 of 2023 on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a crucial milestone in regulating and developing artificial intelligence technology in Indonesia. Minister of Communication and Information Budi Arie Setiadi has signed it as a commitment from the government to ensure that AI development aligns with ethical values and security.

Image credits: kominfo.go.id

The circular letter emphasises that registered business entities under the Indonesian Standard Industrial Classification (KLBI) 62015 have the responsibility to adhere to the established guidelines and ethical norms. This includes aspects such as transparency, accountability, and fairness in developing and implementing artificial intelligence.

Deputy Minister of Communication and Information, Nezar Patria, highlighted the importance of this circular letter in shaping a safe and empowering artificial intelligence digital ecosystem. He predicted that AI potential can be utilised wisely and responsibly with these guidelines without compromising human values and justice.

As part of the government’s efforts to advance artificial intelligence technology, this circular letter also covers the use of electronic systems in both private and public scopes. This demonstrates that regulations are aimed at businesses and all parties involved in developing and utilising artificial intelligence across various sectors.

“Many ask the Ministry of Communication and Information what the benefit of this circular letter is. Indeed, this is what we call a soft regulation. Perhaps it can serve as a guide and a base for higher-level regulations later,” he explained.

As the initial step in the governance model of AI in Indonesia, this circular letter serves as a reference for ethical values in AI technology development, including inclusivity, security, accessibility, personal data protection, sustainable development and the environment.

Looking ahead, according to the Deputy Minister of Communication and Information, the existence of this circular letter will be an additional step to complement the existing regulatory framework, such as Law Number 11 of 2008 concerning Electronic Information and Transactions and its amendments, as well as Law Number 27 of 2022 regarding Personal Data Protection.

The circular letter is envisioned to provide more detailed and current guidance on implementing legal provisions in the context of information technology and electronic transactions. Thus, the public and business entities can better understand the procedures in line with the development of time and needs.

Nezar Patria also emphasised that this step aligns with the government’s efforts to enhance personal data protection and information security. The circular letter is expected to guide all parties involved in managing and using electronic information and personal data.

“If there are cases related to the misuse of AI, they can be referred to these two laws, plus other laws such as Copyright Law and this circular letter. If they do not violate the set ethical values, I believe it will at least mitigate the judge’s ruling to impose a heavy penalty. However, if they violate it, it will sharpen the judge’s judgment to impose a severe penalty,” he clarified.

Nezar Patria asserted that there are clear boundaries between ethics and the law, even though they do not have imperative power. For further regulation, the Ministry of Communication and Information proposes drafting ministerial regulations on AI governance.

“Of course, because there will be more fields regulated there, so the discussion will be opened more widely to all stakeholders to see what needs to be responded to, which is quite crucial,” he expressed.

Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), Wahyudi Djafar, stated that the existence of the AI Governance Circular Letter is a valuable lesson for Indonesia in responding appropriately to the development of AI technology through well-planned stages.

“We try to use an ethics-based approach, and then in the future, of course, we will discuss policy-wise and the context of technology development by applying various standards and ethics in AI development,” he explained.

Wahyudi Djafar said the AI Governance Circular Letter will contribute to the national economy by safeguarding citizens from the risks of AI technology utilisation and usage.

“It means not inhibiting innovation from the technology itself but being able to provide good protection for citizens in the context of human rights,” he concluded.

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