On Tuesday (26 December), the Central government released a directive urging all social media platforms to adhere to IT regulations, in light of increasing worries about deepfakes, Indian Express reported.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) issued the advisory, which requires intermediaries to clearly and accurately inform users about forbidden content, especially those outlined under Rule 3(1)(b) of the IT Rules.
Over a month ago, representatives from numerous companies such as Meta, Google, Telegram, Koo, Sharechat, Apple, HP, and Dell, among others, convened with Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Minister of State for Electronics and IT. This meeting was the second part of a two-day discussion focused on the potential dangers posed by deepfakes.
The PIB press release says that information should be conveyed in a straightforward and accurate manner, including within the platform's terms of service and user agreements. Users should be notified about these rules during their initial registration, and they should receive regular reminders, especially during each login and whenever they upload or share information on the platform.
The importance of social media platforms making sure their users are aware of the possible penalties, including those under the IPC and IT Act 2000, for violations of Rule 3(1)(b) was also highlighted.
Users should be informed about the potential legal consequences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860, the IT Act, 2000, and any other relevant laws that may apply if Rule 3(1)(b) is violated.
Furthermore, it should be emphasised in the service terms and user agreements that intermediaries/platforms are legally obliged to report any legal breaches to the appropriate law enforcement agencies in accordance with the applicable Indian laws, as stated in the advisory.
They also have the responsibility to make reasonable efforts to stop users from hosting, displaying, uploading, modifying, publishing, transmitting, storing, updating, or sharing any information that pertains to the 11 specified user harms or content that is not allowed on digital intermediaries.
The objective of this regulation is to ensure that platforms can identify and swiftly eliminate misinformation, deceptive or misleading content, and materials that impersonate others, including deepfakes.
IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar commented on the advisory, stating that misinformation poses a significant risk to the safety and trust of internet users. He emphasised that AI-powered misinformation, known as deepfakes, intensifies this threat to our Digital Nagriks.
Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's warning about the dangers of deepfakes on 17 November, the Ministry organized two Digital India Dialogues with all Indian internet stakeholders.
These dialogues were aimed at informing them about the provisions of the IT Rules that were announced in October 2022 and revised in April 2023. These rules list 11 specific types of content that are prohibited on all social media intermediaries and platforms.
In the previous month, the Information Technology Ministry had reprimanded the platforms for not synchronising their terms of service with the internet laws of India. They were directed to promptly start educating their users about the permissible and impermissible content on their platforms.
The Union government has also appointed an officer to assist users in filing FIRs against social media companies in instances involving deepfakes.
Previously, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had requested the assistance of the media to enlighten the public about the potential of Artificial Intelligence and deepfake technology. He expressed concern over its ability to swiftly ignite discord in a country as vast and diverse as India, terming it as "worrying".
Numerous viral deepfake videos featuring prominent actors have recently circulated on social media, prompting worries about potential misuse.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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