Indian govt issues advisory to combat deepfakes and misinformation

| Updated: 08 November, 2023 1:30 pm IST

NEW DELHI: In a proactive move to address the growing threat of deepfakes and misinformation, the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has issued a new advisory to social media intermediaries.

This advisory, the second of its kind in the last six months, calls upon online platforms to take decisive actions against the spread of deepfakes and misinformation. It requires these platforms to promptly remove such content within 36 hours when reported.

The advisory emphasises the importance of due diligence and reasonable efforts to identify and combat misinformation and deepfakes that violate existing rules, regulations, and user agreements. It calls for expeditious action, ensuring that the stipulated timeframes under the IT Rules 2021 are strictly adhered to.

Union Minister of State for Electronics & IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, commented on the advisory, emphasising the government’s commitment to the safety and trust of digital citizens. He highlighted the impact of deepfakes on women and urged those affected to file First Information Reports (FIRs) at their nearest police stations and avail remedies provided under the Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021.

The advisory serves as a reminder to intermediaries that failing to comply with the relevant provisions of the IT Act and Rules may result in consequences outlined in Rule 7 of the IT Rules, 2021. This could lead to organisations losing the protections available under Section 79(1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Under the IT Rules, 2021, online platforms are legally obligated to prevent the spread of misinformation by any users. They are also mandated to remove such content within 36 hours upon receiving a report from a user or government authority.

Failure to comply with these requirements empowers aggrieved people to take platforms to court under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Therefore, the government stresses the need for platforms to proactively combat the threat posed by deepfakes and misinformation.

This advisory comes in the wake of a viral deepfake video purporting to show actress Rashmika Mandanna entering an elevator, which was actually created using deepfake technology, featuring Zara Patel. Following the release of this video, veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan has also called for legal action to address the issue of deepfakes on social media.

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