Engage all stakeholders, including civil rights organisations, in AI policymaking: TIB, Article 19

It can become a threat to the protection of personal information of citizens and privacy issues.

Senior Correspondent

Apr 3 2024 12:18 PM

Engage all stakeholders, including civil rights organisations, in AI policymaking: TIB, Article 19
Logo of TIB and Article 19. Photo: Collected.

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) and Article 19 have called for the involvement of all stakeholders, including civil rights organisations, at every stage of the formulation of the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy 2024.

However, the two international organisations have expressed concern over the lack of involvement of the organisations that work for civil rights and rule of law in the drafting and review process of a policy that has far-reaching effects on every citizen of the country, reads a statement.

At the same time, the two organisations also expressed dismay at the neglect of human rights and good governance organisations in the 3 April discussion on the draft AI policy.

The organisations stated that the draft of the artificial intelligence policy has primarily been developed with a focus on the artificial intelligence experiences of various countries.

In the context of Bangladesh, emphasis has been placed on government services, judicial systems, telecommunications, data governance, surveillance, etc. However, the multifaceted impact of this policy on the country's citizens has not been clearly discussed.

"In fact, the drafting process neglected to involve any individual or organisation working on civil rights," reads the press release.

As per the draft National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy 2024, an independent National Artificial Intelligence Center will be established with relevant departments and agencies.

A National AI Advisory Council will also be formed.

But almost all the members of this council, including the advisor and chairman, are representatives of various government agencies. As a result, questions arise about the independence of this council, and similarly, the issue of human rights or all protections, including citizens' information, becomes secondary.

Besides hacking, spamming, and spreading false or fake information, creating fake videos, AI has a wide scope for criminal activities or state surveillance. As a result, it can become a threat to the protection of personal information of citizens and privacy issues.

Clause 4.2.6 of the draft policy provides for the introduction of surveillance systems through artificial intelligence. Although the creation of this surveillance system is primarily for the sake of national security, it may create the risk of establishing a 'police state' through the analysis of citizen data and state surveillance.

There is also the fear that the government is admitting to surveillance of its citizens by enacting a policy, which is a clear violation of human rights. The statement called for the draft to be geared towards ensuring the rule of law and human rights, away from surveillance trends.

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