Government Evaluates Advancements in Social Media Combat Against Deepfakes; Stricter Compliance Guidelines Imminent

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In a rendezvous with social media platforms, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar conducted a comprehensive assessment of their efforts in countering misinformation and deepfakes. Chandrasekhar emphasized that directives ensuring absolute adherence by platforms will be communicated within the next 48 hours.


Chandrasekhar, the Minister of State for IT and Electronics, divulged the ongoing contemplation of amended IT Rules. These proposed changes aim to fortify platform compliance while prioritizing the safety and trust of online users, as conveyed in a communication posted on X (formerly Twitter).


Reflecting on the second #DigitalIndiaDialogues addressing Misinformation and #Deepfakes with intermediaries, Chandrasekhar underscored the pivotal nature of this evaluation. Platforms, he noted, are actively responding to decisions taken last month, with imminent advisories mandating 100% compliance.


Simultaneously, undisclosed sources revealed a stern stance adopted by the government during Tuesday’s meeting with digital platforms. Platforms were reminded that 11 delineated areas of “user harms” or “illegalities,” as outlined in IT Rules, correspond to analogous provisions in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Consequently, criminal repercussions may ensue within the existing legal framework.


Insisting on alignment with IT Rules, the government emphasized the necessity for clear inclusion in platforms’ terms of service/community guidelines. Violations under 3(1)(b) of IT Rules should explicitly equate to infringements of other laws, such as the IPC. Accessibility and visibility of these terms to users were underscored, with periodic reminders about the 11 prohibited areas.


Platforms were urged to streamline reporting mechanisms for violations, designating all reported infringements as grievances for the Grievance Officer. Additionally, sources mentioned that the Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) would assume the adjudication role under Rule 7/Section 79.


Following the November 24 meeting, where platforms were given a seven-day ultimatum to address deepfake concerns, the government revealed that compliance varied. While some platforms promptly complied, those exhibiting a slower response were granted additional time. The government, maintaining a “zero-tolerance approach” towards user harm, asserted this stance during Tuesday’s meeting.


Instances surfaced where community guidelines and prohibited content lists were not easily accessible to users. Platforms were found lacking in comprehensive alignment with terms of service, especially concerning deception, misinformation, harm to children, pedophilic content, privacy invasion, and content threatening India’s unity, defense, security, friendly relations, and public order.

A conclusive meeting with platforms to assess progress on these issues is scheduled in seven days, according to sources.

Presently, IT Rules obligate platforms to address harm, raising user awareness about illegalities. The responsibility for this lies with the platforms, aligning with due diligence provisions for intermediaries (Section 3 of IT Rules).

During Tuesday’s meeting, platforms were explicitly warned about criminal consequences tied to user harms, even within the confines of existing laws. Citing the Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC), sources highlighted the potential prosecution for deepfakes under “forgery,” with equivalent provisions for other forms of harm under the IPC.

Affirming the commitment to a “zero-tolerance approach,” the government pledged not to relax its efforts in ensuring internet safety and trust for all Indians. A reassessment in seven days will determine if advisories suffice or if new, more stringent rules are necessary.

The term “deepfakes” refers to digitally manipulated media, synthetically altered to convincingly misrepresent or impersonate someone, utilizing artificial intelligence. Recent viral ‘deepfake’ videos targeting prominent actors have sparked public outrage, fueling concerns over the misuse of technology for fabricating content and narratives.

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