India will soon introduce regulations to combat the growing menace of deepfakes as a new legislation or amendments to existing laws, Indian minister of electronics and IT Ashwini Vaishnaw said.
The announcement came after Vaishnaw’s meeting with key stakeholders, including representatives of industry bodies, social media firms and academia.
The stakeholders agreed to jointly work towards responding to deepfake, the ministry of electronics and information technology said in a statement.
Deepfakes are AI-generated synthetic media that digitally manipulate existing images, videos, or audio recordings to misrepresent or impersonate someone.
“Deepfakes have emerged as a new threat to democracy. They weaken trust in society and its institutions,” Vaishnaw said.
“The use of social media is ensuring that defects can spread significantly more rapidly without any checks, and they are getting viral within a few minutes of their uploading. That’s why we need to take very urgent steps to strengthen trust in society to protect democracy,” he said after the meeting.
“All have agreed to come up with clear, actionable items in 10 days based on four key pillars that were discussed: detection of deepfakes, prevention of publishing and viral sharing of deepfake and deep misinformation content, strengthening the reporting mechanism for such content, and spreading of awareness through joint efforts by government and industry,” Vaishnaw added.
A follow-up meeting will be held in the first week of December to finalize the four-pillared structure. The ministry said it will commence an exercise for assessing and drafting necessary regulations to curb the menace of deepfake with immediate effect.
“We will start drafting regulations today itself, and within a short time we will have a new set of regulations for deepfakes. This could be in the form of amending existing framework or bringing new rules, or new law,” Vaishnaw said.
Vaishnaw said the regulation could also include financial penalties, both on the person who has uploaded or created, as well as on the platform.
Further, the government will enable citizens to file First Information Reports (FIRs) against social media platforms for violating IT rules, junior IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Friday.
The IT ministry is developing a specialised platform where aggrieved citizens can notify authorities about objectionable and misleading content, such as deepfakes, on social media.
The FIR will be registered against the intermediary and if they disclose the details from where the content has originated then the FIR will be filed against the entity that has posted the content, the minister added.
Social media firms were summoned after Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week raised concerns over deepfake videos. Modi also raised the issue in a virtual meeting with G20 leaders on Wednesday.
Deepfakes can be used to spread misinformation, malign someone, or even for financial scams. Experts have long raised concerns over the misuse of AI-generated deepfakes.
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