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Exclusive: India tells Meta to become its trusted partner in AI for innovation-friendly regulations at global forum

The government also told Meta that it would welcome an initiative to have Indian techies based in the country working on AI, according to sources

December 09, 2022 / 03:26 PM IST


The government has told Meta that India can use its recently-assumed position as Chair of the Global Partnership for Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) to push for innovation-friendly regulations at the multilateral forum if the company becomes government's trusted AI partner, according to sources aware of the developments.

“The company was also told that it would do well to attract the government’s attention by undertaking an AI initiative by itself in the country, or even as part of a consortium… Also, AI would be one of the focus areas for the government in its G20 presidency,” said a person in the know.

These discussions happened in the last week of November when Meta policy chief Nick Clegg visited India and met with several top-ranking government officials.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) did not respond to queries sent by Moneycontrol on the matter.

“We deeply appreciate the opportunity to discuss how Meta can work together with the government to achieve India's techade goals. Since these were closed-door meetings, we would not be able to share more information,” said a Meta spokesperson.

India took over the chair of the GPAI for 2022-23 at a meeting of the body in Tokyo on November 21. In the election to the Council Chair, India had received more than a two-thirds majority of first-preference votes while Canada and the United States of America ranked in the next two best places in the tally. Meanwhile, the country has also started its year-long presidency of the Group of 20 (G20) earlier this month.

According to sources, the government also told Meta that it would welcome an initiative to have Indian techies based in the country working on AI.

“Clegg was quick to point out that Meta had not thus far thought about AI investments in India due to confusion around data localisation norms, but that might no longer be an issue as the latest version of a proposed digital data protection law has significantly eased the rules of data storage,” the source said.

“When Meta officials presented some of the AI initiatives it already runs such as No Language Left Behind (NLLB), a senior official said that it was academic and not very India-specific…,” he added.

NLLB is an AI project that open-sources models capable of delivering translations directly between 200 languages—including low-resource languages like Asturian, Luganda, Urdu and more. It aims to give people the opportunity to access and share web content in their native language, and communicate with anyone, anywhere, regardless of their language preferences.

Moneycontrol reported earlier that during his visit, Clegg was told that the government would enforce traceability for law enforcement and security purposes on WhatsApp one way or another, even if the courts struck down a legal provision on detecting the first originator of messages, according to people aware of the development.

Further, sources said Indian government has told Meta, which owns social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, to make efforts to process and complete content takedown orders issued by authorities within one hour of receiving such official communication

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Deepsekhar Choudhury
Deepsekhar Choudhury Deepsekhar covers tech and startups at Moneycontrol. Tweets at @deepsekharc
first published: Dec 9, 2022 03:17 pm