In response to the growing threat of deepfake content, the government has issued a crucial advisory to major social media intermediaries. This advisory calls on these intermediaries to exercise diligence and employ reasonable measures to detect and address the issue of misinformation and deepfake content. The recent appearance of a deepfake video featuring actress Rashmika Mandanna has underscored the urgent need to address this challenge. Deepfake media, created with advanced AI tools, is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from reality. In light of this concerning trend, the government has reminded social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, X, Snap, and others of the potential consequences if they do not take effective steps to combat the spread of misinformation and fake media.
Key Highlights from the Advisory:
Timely Content Removal: Social media intermediaries are mandated to take swift action against instances of deepfakes and misinformation, adhering to the stipulated timeframes outlined in the IT Rules of 2021. They are also instructed to prevent users from hosting such content. Any reported content must be removed within 36 hours of notification.
Consequences for Non-compliance: Failure to comply with the relevant provisions of the IT Act and Rules may result in the loss of legal protection under Section 79(1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Government’s Commitment to Digital Citizens’ Safety: Union Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Electronics & IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, stressed that the safety and trust of digital citizens are paramount for the Narendra Modi Government. He highlighted the significant challenges posed by deepfakes, particularly in their impact on women.
Legal Responsibility of Online Platforms: Rajeev Chandrasekhar further emphasized that online platforms have a legal obligation to prevent the spread of misinformation. They are mandated to promptly remove such content within 36 hours of receiving reports from users or government authorities. Failure to comply with this obligation invokes Rule 7, which empowers affected individuals to take legal action against platforms under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Encouraging Reporting of Deepfakes: The Minister encouraged individuals affected by deepfakes to file First Information Reports (FIRs) at their nearest police station and avail themselves of the remedies provided under the Information Technology (IT) Rules of 2021.
Union Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Electronics & IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “Safety and trust of our Digital Nagriks is our unwavering commitment and top priority for the Narendra Modi Government. Given the significant challenges posed by misinformation and deepfakes, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has issued a second advisory within the last six months, calling upon online platforms to take decisive actions against the spread of deepfakes.”
The Minister added that deepfakes are a major violation and harm women in particular. “Our Government takes the responsibility of safety and trust of all nagriks very, very seriously, and more so about our children and women who are targeted by such content,” he added.
Elaborating further, Chandrasekhar said, “It is a legal obligation for online platforms to prevent the spread of misinformation by any user under the Information Technology (IT) rules, 2021. They are further mandated to remove such content within 36 hours upon receiving a report from either a user or government authority. Failure to comply with this requirement invokes Rule 7, which empowers aggrieved individuals to take platforms to court under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It is imperative that platforms take proactive measures to combat this threat.”