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Beware the Deepfake! Government Issues Legal Warning Before Lok Sabha Polls

The Indian government recently sharpened its focus on the misuse of deepfake technology in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. It came close to a string of incidents where deepfake content had presented public figures in a way that raised concern across the spectrum from officials to the general public.

Simply put, deepfake is AI-based hyper-realistic video or audio synthesis technology that has fallen into bad hands, at least that’s what we are witnessing. Notable instances have involved Bollywood stars like Aamir Khan and Ranveer Singh. For which the two actors have emerged in fake videos airing political views they never held, both ‘complaining’ against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and supporting the Congress party.

Deepfake Technology During Elections

Following these incidents, a government official, preferring to stay anonymous, highlighted the strict enforcement of an advisory issued on March 15. The official said this guideline assumes significance as it clearly lays down conditions for the platform and developers to ensure they don’t host or develop AI-generated content violating India’s IT Rules. Earlier, there used to be a contentious rule where companies were required to seek government approval before going to market with AI products. That requirement has been dropped to make compliance easier without reducing oversight.

To keep the electoral process authentic as well as the overall public discussions about the elections, the Indian government has decided to take a firm stance against Deepfake videos. There is no specific law just on AI generative models, but there is an already established law that prohibits or makes it illegal for anyone to post or share unlawful content on the internet as described in Rule 3(1)(b) of the IT Rules or violates any other provision of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

It will be of great importance for you, the reader, to critically look into the information you are exposed to, especially online, considering that with the awaited change of policies post-elections, harder measures concerning the explosion of deepfakes are being planned by the government. These steps are likely to be part of the ministry’s 100-day agenda, underscoring the immediate need to tackle this modern issue.

There are revolutionary things happening in the AI space every week, and that’s something we should consider because we all live in this digital world now. We all should be concerned about AI being misused because it can easily be used by anyone to target the ruling government or the opposition to flip the results or at least influence the voters heavily based on fake news and fake statements that celebrities or politicians never made.


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