Regulations to tackle deepfakes soon, punishment for creators, platforms

New Delhi, Nov 23 (Representative) In a key meeting on the issue of deepfakes, which has been flagged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several celebrities, it has been decided that the government will bring in regulation at the earliest and attempts will be made to have a draft ready within a few weeks. Addressing a press conference after the meeting with social media platforms and companies working on artificial intelligence tools on Thursday, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said deepfakes have emerged as a new threat to democracy, and accountability for such content will lie both with creators and the platform on which it has been hosted. He said the government will also look at penalties for both creators and platforms. The minister said four key issues were discussed at the meeting: how deepfakes can be detected; whether and how people can be prevented from posting deepfakes and whether such content can be stopped from going viral; how a reporting mechanism can be implemented so users on any app or website can alert the platform and the authorities about a deepfake so that action can be taken; and increasing awareness among the public, for which he said the government, industry and the media will need to work together. Mr Vaishnaw said it was clear from the discussions that a new regulation is needed for such content.

He said work on this will begin immediately and an attempt will be made to finish drafting the regulation in the next few weeks. The minister asserted that accountability will lie both with the creators of deepfakes and the platforms hosting them. He said the regulations could be introduced in the form of new rules, a new law or an amendment to existing rules. The minister pointed out that the digital world does not have physical boundaries but content created anywhere in the world will have to abide by Indian laws if it is shown to people in the country. Asked whether penalties will be imposed for deepfakes that cause harm, Mr Vaishnaw said the government will look into this aspect both for creators and platforms while drafting the regulations. The minister said it has been decided that the next meeting will be held in the first week of December and the government will take stock of the follow-up actions taken on the issues which were discussed on Thursday. He added that social media companies and platforms have assured the government that, until then, they will take all possible steps to tackle deepfakes as per their policies and guidelines. Mr Vaishnaw emphasised that free speech and privacy are issues that are very important to the government and these are being undermined by the use of deepfakes. He said the new regulations will look to ensure that AI-generated synthetic content is not harmful to society and democracy. The ministry will also invite comments from the public on the MyGov portal.“Users have a right to know what is natural and what is not. What is natural and what is synthetic.

The way we will structure the entire regulatory mechanism is that we will focus both on preventing harm and giving the option to the user to evaluate whether it is synthetic or natural,” he said. The meeting was attended by representatives of social media platforms, companies working on tools that can create AI-generated video, audio or images, the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), and professors working in the field of artificial intelligence. The Union minister said all the attendees unanimously agreed that the issue should be addressed at the earliest. Addressing the virtual G20 Summit on Wednesday, Prime Minister Modi called for a proper look into the lightning-fast growth of artificial intelligence amid safety concerns and asked G20 nations to work jointly on addressing this issue “AI should reach people, and it must be safe for society… Deepfake is a big concern. AI has to be safe for the public,” he said. After deepfake videos of actors Rashmika Mandhana and Katrina Kaif emerged earlier this month, several celebrities had also raised concerns about the misuse of AI and called for regulation.