In a recent address during Bharatiya Janata’s Diwali Milan program, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grave concern over the escalating misuse of artificial intelligence, particularly in the creation of ‘deepfake’ videos. Modi emphasized the need for the media to play a pivotal role in educating the public about the inherent risks associated with this technology.
The Prime Minister’s statement follows the viral spread of a ‘deepfake’ video featuring actress Rashmika Mandanna on social media. Suspected to be crafted using artificial intelligence, the video replaced the face of a British-Indian influencer with Mandanna’s likeness. This incident has prompted widespread calls for regulatory measures to address the growing threat of deepfakes.
During his address, Modi reiterated his commitment to transforming India into a ‘Viksit Bharat’ (developed India), emphasizing that these aspirations are not mere words but tangible realities. He also highlighted the overwhelming public support for the ‘vocal for local’ initiative, asserting that India’s achievements during the Covid-19 pandemic have instilled confidence in the nation’s unstoppable progress.
Addressing the significance of Chhath Puja, Modi celebrated its elevation to the status of a ‘rashtriya parva’ (national festival), expressing great joy at the cultural importance it holds.
The concerns raised by the Prime Minister echo recent directives from the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. In letters dated November 6 and 7, the ministry reminded social media platforms of their legal obligations under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code), 2021. These guidelines mandate the prompt removal of misinformation and deepfakes within 36 hours of being reported.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister for Electronics and Technology, emphasized on social media platforms’ responsibility in tackling deepfakes, considering them a “more dangerous and damaging form of misinformation.” He cited legal obligations and IT rules pertaining to digital deception.
While acknowledging the legal complexities surrounding deepfakes, legal experts caution that Section 66D of the Information Technology Act, 2000, may not be directly applicable in cases like the recent Rashmika Mandanna video. Nonetheless, the ministry’s letters underscore the potential loss of safe harbor protection for platforms failing to comply with regulations.
As the government takes proactive steps to curb the spread of deepfakes, the call for responsible AI usage resonates across the nation. With the media playing a crucial role in shaping public awareness, a collective effort is needed to navigate the challenges posed by rapidly advancing AI technologies.