MoS Rajiv Chandrasekhar on AI, ad-tech monopolies and big tech dominance including by Facebook, Google

Union Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar while speaking at the DNPA Conclave & Awards 2024 event spoke at length about the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) and how ad tech monopolies are the biggest concern for digital media. The Union Minister of State also highlighted how India’s technology growth has been “spectacular” and how the emergence of AI tools has been beneficial but is also affecting the media ecosystem in India. During his talk, the minister also highlighted the upcoming benefits to be derived through the upcoming Digital India Act and the impact on “visible asymmetries”. 

Rajiv Chandrasekhar on ad tech monopolies

MoS Chandrasekhar spoke at length about AI and the challenges that the current digital media ecosystem in India is facing. When asked about ad-tech monopolies he said, “We are concerned about the deep asymmetry between those who create content and those who help them to monetise it. From a policymaking point of view, we want the internet to be open, and we certainly do not want monetisation on the internet to be in the purview of or to be controlled by just one, two, or three companies.”

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This statement highlights how big-tech companies such as Alphabet-owned Google, Facebook, Instagram, X and others have a virtual monopoly over online advertising revenue. Chandrasekhar inicated that Big Tech giants take a far larger share of the revenue than the news publishers for using their published content. It also highlights that digital media and news publishers receive far less returns than the big tech platforms. Chandrasekhar said these issues should be handled in India as various other regions such as Australia, Europe, America and Canada are asking to create a balance as far as ad tech revenues are concerned for a more equitable structure and distribution.

He said the Digital India Act, once rolled out after the 2024 general elections, would “deal with this very pronounced and very visible asymmetry between the small guy or the medium guy in the Indian digital ecosystem and the big [tech] platforms, the gatekeepers for monetising that content. The asymmetry needs to be legislated, or at the very least, regulated through rules of a new legislation”.

Summarising the message MoS Chandrasekhar was conveying spanned the concern he expressed at the asymmetry between digital news publishers and Big Tech platforms over revenue-sharing model. While that wa sthe problem, Chandrasekhar also indicated that a solution may be forthcoming too. He indicated that the coming Digital India Act aims to address the disbalance.

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