DIA Guidance on using Generative AI in the Public Sector

On 26 July 2023 the Department of Internal Affairs (in conjunction with Statistics NZ and the National Cyber Security Centre) released guidance on Generative AI, entitled “Initial advice on Generative Artificial Intelligence in the public service”.  You can access the guidance here.

The purpose of the guidance is to provide “guardrails” for the public sector in the use of Generative AI.  It outlines the benefits and key risks of using Generative AI and makes various recommendations for its use.  While written for the public sector, this 13 page document is also useful for the private sector, as it covers the key concerns all organisations need to consider when using Generative AI.  Chief among these is to not use the tools for sensitive data or to input personal information into tools that are external to the public sector agency.

Other key points to consider from the guidance are:

  • develop an AI/Generative AI policy and standards to guide use of the technology;
  • identify privacy risks (eg by undertaking a privacy impact assessment) and minimise how Generative AI tools that contain personal data are used;
  • understand the limitations of Generative AI, such as bias and mis-information;
  • undertake testing and assurance processes to ensure any outputs from using Generative AI are correct and safe to use;
  • work with Iwi Māori where Generative AI may impact Māori;
  • ensure there is human oversight in the application or use of Generative AI outputs;
  • be open and transparent around what Generative AI is being used for;
  • have internal testing environments to safely trial and learn how to use Generative AI.

The guidance also reminds public sector agencies of the need to apply Government procurement rules when considering the use of Generative AI and to consider the risk that open-source AI software may not be secure and free from vulnerabilities.  In this regard, organisations should be ensuring that they continue to apply their usual processes for sourcing any technology when considering a Generative AI technology.

For further guidance on the use of AI, please see our earlier article, assessable here or get in touch with your usual Lane Neave lawyer.

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