Government planning New rules for hosting deepfakes: IT minister

The government is planning new rules that could impose penalties on both creators and platform hosting deepfakes as it looks to crack down on what IT and Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishaw described as “a threat to democracy”.

Amid some celebrities reporting their faces being manipulated for another video, new safeguards being considered will look at measures including watermarking AI-generated content, deepfake detection, rules for data bias, privacy and protection against concentration.

“Deepfakes have emerged as a new threat to democracy. These (can) undermine trust in society and its institutions,” Vaishnaw said after a meeting with various stakeholders including social media platforms, Nasscom and other professors from the field of artificial intelligence (AI) . .

“We will start drafting the regulations themselves today and within a very short time frame we will have a separate regulation for deepfakes,” he said.

The government, he said, would come up with actionable points on four pillars — detecting deepfakes, preventing the spread of such content, strengthening reporting mechanisms and spreading awareness about the problem — within 10 days.

All stakeholders present at the meeting shared similar concerns regarding deepfakes, he said. “All Social Media platforms agree to have comprehensive technology to detect deepfakes.” India has over 80 crore internet users which is expected to cross 120 crore in two years. Deepfake is a piece of technology that exploits AI altering a person’s appearance, voice or actions in a way that may be realistic and challenging to distinguish from authentic, unaltered content. Recent deepfakes have brought to the fore the urgency of a regulatory framework for AI in the new Digital India Act.

Vaishnaw said that deepfake advertisements or misleading campaigns are a threat that the Indian society is currently facing.

“The use of social media ensures that deepfakes can spread quickly in a more significant way without any kind of control and go viral. This is why we need to take urgent steps to strengthen trust in society and our democracy, ” he told reporters here.

Deepfakes surged after actress Rashmika Mandanna’s face was found to have been used in an embarrassing video earlier this month. Some other celebrities including Katrina Kaif and Kajol were also reported to be victims of deepfakes.

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also warned about the threat of deepfakes.

On Saturday, Vaishnaw warned that social media platforms would lose the immunity they enjoy under the “safe harbor” clause of the Information and Technology Act if they fail to take action against deepfakes. The clause states that an online platform cannot be held responsible for the content shared on it by users.

After the meeting with stakeholders on Thursday, he said that deepfake video creators have found ways to even crack labeling and watermarks. “So there must be something that finds a way out of it.” The next meeting on the subject will be held in the first week of December.

Within the next 10 days, the government will come up with clear actionable points on four pillars – detection (of deep fakes, misinformation), how to prevent the spread of misinformation, how to strengthen reporting mechanisms, (in-app reporting mechanisms need to be strengthened ) and raise awareness, said the minister.

“All companies have shared our concern. They understood that this is not free speech, that this is something very harmful… they have understood the need for much heavier regulation,” he added. “The use of social media ensures that deepfakes can spread significantly faster without control, going viral within minutes of uploading.

The Minister said that there are very urgent steps to be taken to strengthen trust in society and protect our democracy. “There is a need to take action on this at the earliest, whether it is legal, regulatory or technical action, we need to take all possible steps.

Asked whether there will be a change in the existing rule or new law may be introduced, he said, “We can bring this in the form of making changes to the existing rules or we can bring a new set of rules.

“We also discussed watermarking and labeling. Everyone agreed that we have to do this, this is the basic minimum that everyone will have to do,” he said. “When we draft the regulation, we will also look at the sanctions for both the person who uploaded or created the platform. We say that the government will bring the regulation for detection, prevention, strengthening the reporting mechanism and creating awareness. and use technologies for deepfakes and AI-generated content that may be harmful to society.

Until the regulation is made, social media platforms and companies promised to take all possible measures to prevent the spread of deepfakes. “Everyone said they are taking steps internally and they want to increase the intensity of those steps,” he said.

He said that freedom of speech and privacy are both important to the government, and said both of these constructs are being undermined with deeply false falsehoods. “So new regulation is too deeply bogus, and AI-generated content is not harmful to society.” Citing examples of deepfakes, the minister said during the election campaign in Madhya Pradesh, a video surfaced where the chief minister was sort of saying to vote for the opposite party.

“It was absolutely disinformation, profoundly false and profoundly disinformation. We have to deal with that, apart from we have to make sure that the people who create these, they are identified, they have their own set of penalties, at the same time as the platforms that are the tools through which this content is spread they also have to take responsibility in relation to what they allow to be out on their platforms.

“It is very important to detect a deepfake. It is very important to identify between synthetic and deepfake content,” he added.

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