India to Legislate AI Regulations Soon, Says Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw: Report

India could start the process of legislating artificial intelligence (AI) regulations right after the conclusion of the general elections, the Union Minister of Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw said, as per a report. India has been planning to create some sort of regulatory framework to tackle various issues that have surfaced with the rise of technology. Notably, this comes just a month after the Indian government issued an advisory asking tech companies to seek “explicit permission” before deploying under-testing or unreliable AI models in the country.

That advisory was later withdrawn, and tech companies were asked to include visible labels containing “possible inherent fallibility or unreliability of the output generated”. Now, in an interview with the Economic Times, Vaishnaw explained the government’s plans to create a larger regulatory structure for AI. He said, “One thought is to form a self-regulatory body. But we don’t think that would be enough. We think that this regulation should be done by legislative method. We have already consulted the industry. After elections, we will launch a formal consultation process and move towards legislation.”

The minister also said that the regulations would be “very balanced” and ensure that the creativity of the innovators was not stifled. However, highlighting copyright, financial, and commercial implications, he said that regulations were necessary.

In the last year, since AI became mainstream, incidents of deepfakes have seen a marked rise. For the unversed, deepfakes are any synthetic media — images, videos, or audio — that are digitally manipulated or enhanced to give the likeness of a living personality, likely to spread misinformation. One of the earliest cases involved actor Rashmika Mandanna, whose digitally altered video was posted online, sparking a debate on public safety. Other celebrities such as actor Alia Bhatt, Katrina Kaif, and dancer and influencer Nora Fatehi have also fallen victim to deepfakes.

Vaishnaw also highlighted the challenge of preserving intellectual property, an issue which has already become widespread in the US. Famous authors such as Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Franzen, and James Patterson are part of thousands of writers who have written signed letters to tech giants building AI models, asking them not to use their copyrighted work to train the AI or to let it generate content in their style, as per a report. The New York Times also filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft for using its news articles unauthorised to train its chatbot.

In India, the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) sent a letter to the government seeking copyright protection against AI models, as per an earlier report by ET. These challenges are expected to be addressed through the planned AI regulation.

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