India’s e-commerce draft policy is nearly complete after two years. The overarching goal of the policy is to reduce power from tech giants like Facebook and Amazon and allow better access to information resources. The policy proposes regulations that help to minimize “digitally induced biases” and requires e-commerce companies to state whether they use “explainable AI” in their software operations.
India’s Ministry of Commerce’s Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade hopes that the draft will further propel the country’s booming economy. Currently, leading companies continue to take a large share of the market, and India hopes to boost its local market and encourage other countries to buy from India, too.
Privacy and security are major concerns the policy hopes to address, and security plays a critical role in the new policy. This comes during a time data theft is at an all-time high and new malware is created at an accelerating rate. To address privacy concerns, companies are spearheading ID verification systems, adopting security awareness training and practice, using cloud-based resources, and encrypting data.
Recently, India banned the widely popular app TikTok, along with 58 other Chinese apps, citing national security concerns. With the policy, companies like YouTube and Amazon that collect data from Indian users would be subject to periodic audit and must hand over that data to the government within 72 hours or face a penalty. This empowers the country to investigate and take action against and actions that pose a threat to the country’s security.
As tensions with China rise, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush recently urged Indians to buy more Made in India products, even if they cost a little more than imported products. The draft would require e-commerce sites in India to state a product’s country of origin, ultimately highlighting the role that India plays in manufacturing many products. An origin tag would also allow Indian consumers to filter out products from other countries.
Forcing ecommerce sites to disclose explainable AI is another step towards deeper transparency and better security. Explainable artificial intelligence refers to the concept that an individual can clearly understand the path that a system took to make a decision.
“For small things like AI-powered chatbots or sentiment analysis of social feeds, it doesn’t really matter if the AI system operates in a black box,” said Stephen Blum, CTO of software company PubNub. “But for use cases with a big human impact – autonomous vehicles, aerial navigation, and drones, military applications – being able to understand the decision-making process is mission-critical. As we rely more and more on AI in our everyday lives, we need to be able to understand its ‘thought process’ and make changes and improvements over time.”
Black box AI is a term used to describe a system whose operations aren’t visible to the user. However, it’s important for the consumer to understand how AI makes its decisions in order for them to trust the technology. The goal of explainable AI in India’s draft policy is to help online shoppers clearly understand how AI or machine learning techniques arrive at their conclusions.
The Indian government may open up its draft policy for comments before finalizing it.