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Govt talks tough to social media platforms on deepfake issue

Holds review meeting with companies

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NEW DELHI, Dec 5: The government on Tuesday held another round of meeting with social media platforms to “review” progress made by them in tackling deepfake issue, according to sources.

Platforms have been clearly told that the 11 “user harms” or “illegalities” flagged under IT rules are in fact also mapped to equivalent provisions in IPC (Indian Penal Code) and hence criminal consequences exist even under the current laws.

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It is pertinent to mention that on November 24, Minister of State for IT and Electronics Rajeev Chandrasekhar had met with the representatives of social media platforms and the companies were given seven days to act decisively on deepfakes, and align their terms of use as per the IT rules.

According to sources, a follow-up meeting was held on Tuesday with social media platforms to assess the progress made after the November 24 meeting.

While some platforms have complied, others that been “slow” in doing so, have been given additional time.

The government, in Tuesday’s meeting, has made it clear that it will continue with its “zero tolerance approach” on user harm.

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While many platforms have shown a clear understanding of what is the right thing to do and are adapting quickly, some platforms have shown lethargy, the sources pointed out.

A final meeting with platforms to take stock of the issue will take place in seven days.

IT rules and Act clearly require platforms to tackle harm, and also make sure that users on the platforms are well aware of what is illegal and what is not.

The onus of ensuing this rests squarely on the platforms.

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During Tuesday’s meeting, platforms were clearly told that there are criminal consequences to such user harms, mapped even under existing laws.

Citing a case in point, sources said a section under CRPC allows prosecution for deepfakes under “forgery”. Similarly, other forms of harms have equivalent provisions under the IPC.

“No platform used to doing nothing about harm would like to be told that we are going to take a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to harm… Ones that are slower (to act), we have given them some more time but we have certainly not given them any feeling that we are going to relax the government’s approach in making internet safe and trusted for all Indians,” the source said.

The government will review in seven days whether advisories will be suffice or if new or amended rules will need to be issued.

“Whether we need to issue only advisories or issue new amended rules is something we will review in seven days from today. And if necessary, we will follow it up with much tighter set of rules that focus on enforcement and issue of creating deterrence for those who abuse the platforms,” sources said.

Deepfakes refer to synthetic or doctored media that is digitally manipulated and altered to convincingly misrepresent or impersonate someone, using a form of artificial intelligence.

Recently, several ‘deepfake’ videos targeting leading actors went viral, sparking public outrage and raising concerns over the misuse of technology and tools for creating doctored content and fake narratives. (PTI)

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