The Centre has sent a rule reminder to social media platforms after a viral deepfake video, said to be of actor Rashmika Mandanna, sparked concern over the use of Artificial Intelligence to spread disinformation, according to sources.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued an advisory to social media platforms, underlining the legal provisions that cover such deepfakes and the penalties their creation and circulation may attract.
The government has cited Section 66D of Information Technoloy Act, 2000. The section, which relates to ‘punishment for cheating by personation by using computer resource’, states, “Whoever, by means for any communication device or computer resource cheats by personating, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.”
The government’s advisory comes amid shock and concern over a viral video that appeared to show Ms Mandanna entering an elevator. Soon after the clip started trending, it was found that it was actually a video of British-Indian influencer Zara Patel. The visuals were doctored using deepfake technology and the result was jaw-dropping – Ms Patel’s face was replaced with that of Ms Mandanna.
The revelation sparked concerns over the ramifications of such tinkering, especially for public figures, who may get in trouble over visuals their faces are doctored into.
Ms Mandanna said this episode is “extremely scary”. ”I feel really hurt to share this and have to talk about the deepfake video of me being spread online. Something like this is honestly, extremely scary not only for me, but also for each one of us who today is vulnerable to so much harm because of how technology is being misused,” she said.
Several voices in the film industry, including legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan, flagged the matter and called for legal action.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, yesterday said the Narendra Modi government is committed to ensuring safety and trust for Indians in the digital space.
“Under the IT rules notified in April, 2023 – it is a legal obligation for platforms to ensure no misinformation is posted by any user, ensure that when reported by any user or govt, misinformation is removed in 36 hrs. If platforms do not comply wth this, rule 7 will apply and platforms can be taken to court by aggrieved person under provisions of IPC. Deep fakes are latest and even more dangerous and damaging form of misinformation and needs to be dealt with by platforms,” the minister tweeted yesterday with the hashtags “SafeTrustedInternet”, “Accountable” and “DigitalIndia”.
The video, however, can still be seen on social media platforms.