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      Government Planning New Regulations for Hosting Deepfakes : Ashwini Vaishaw

      Government of India is planning new regulations that may impose penalties on both creator and platform hosting deepfakes as it looks to clamp down on what IT and Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishaw described as “a threat to democracy“. 

      After some celebrities reporting their faces being manipulate onto another video, new protection regulations being consider will look at measures including watermarking AI-generated content, deepfake detection, rules for data bias, privacy and guards against concentration.

      Ashwini Vaishnaw said after meeting with various stakeholders, including social media platforms, Nasscom and other professors from the field of artificial intelligence (AI).

      “Deepfakes have emerge as a new threat to democracy. These (can) weaken trust in society and its institutions,”

      “We will start drafting the regulations today itself and within a very short timeframe, we will have a separate regulation for deepfakes,”.

      Government, Ashwini Vaishnaw said, would come up with actionable items on four pillars, detection of deepfakes, preventing the spread of such content, strengthening reporting mechanisms, and spreading awareness on the issue within 10 days.

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      All stakeholders present at the meeting share similar concerns regarding deepfakes, Ashwini Vaishnaw said :

      “All social media platforms agreed to have extensive technology to detect deepfakes.”

      India has over 80 crore internet users, which are project to cross 120 crore in two years.

      Deepfake is a piece of technology that leverages AI to alter a person’s appearance, voice, or actions in a way that can be realistic and challenging to discern from authentic, unaltered content.

      Recent deepfakes have brought to the fore the urgency of a regulatory framework for AI in the new Digital India law.

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      Ashwini Vaishnaw said deepfake advertisements or misleading promotions are a threat that Indian society is facing currently.

      Ashwini Vaishnaw Said :

      “The use of social media ensures that deepfakes can spread rapidly in a more significant manner without any check and go viral. This is why we need to take urgent steps to strengthen trust in society and our democracy,”.

      Deepfakes shot into prominence after actor Rashmika Mandanna’s face was found to have use in an embarrassing video earlier this month.

      Some other celebrities including Katrina Kaif and Kajol were also report to be victims of deepfake.

      Also, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also warn about the threat deepfakes pose.

      Ashwini Vaishnaw warn social media platforms would lose the immunity they enjoy under the ‘safe harbour’ clause in the Information and Technology Act if they fail to take measures against deepfakes.

      The clause said that an online platform cannot be held accountable for the content share on it by users.

      After the meeting with stakeholders, Ashwini Vaishnaw said deepfake video creators have found ways to even crack labelling and watermarks.

      “Thus, there has to be something that finds a way out of it.”

      Next meeting on the subject will be held in the first week of December 2023.

      Within the next 10 days, the government would come up with clear actionable items on four pillars, detection (of deepfakes, misinformation), how to prevent spread of misinformation, how to strengthen reporting mechanisms, (in-app reporting mechanisms have to be strengthened) and increasing awareness, Ashwini Vaishnaw said.

      Ashwini Vaishnaw said :

      “All the companies have shared our concern. They understood that this is not free speech, that this is something very harmful, they have understood the need for much heavier regulation,”.

      “The use of social media is ensuring that deepfakes can spread significantly more rapidly without any check and they are getting viral in few minutes of the uploading.

      He also said there are very urgent steps need to be taken to strengthen trust in society and to protect our democracy.

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      Ashwini Vaishnaw said :

      “We also discussed watermarking and labelling. All agreed that we have to do this, this is the basic minimum which all will have to do,”.

      “When we will draft the regulation we will also be looking at the penalties both the person who has uploaded or created as well the platform. We are saying that the government will bring the regulation for detection, prevention, strengthening the reporting mechanism and creating awareness and using technologies for deepfakes and AI-generated content which can be harmful to society”.

      Until the regulation is made, social media platforms and companies promise to take all possible measures to prevent the spread of deepfakes.

      Ashwini Vaishnaw said :

      “All of them said they are taking steps internally and they would like to increase the intensity of those steps,”.

      Stating that free speech and privacy are both important for the government, Ashwini Vaishnaw said both these constructs are being undermine with deepfake.

      Ashwini Vaishnaw said :

      “So new regulation is for deep fake and AI-generated content is not harmful to society.”

      “That was absolute misinformation, deep fake and deep misinformation. We have to address that apart we have to ensure that the people who create these they are identified they have their own set of punishments simultaneously the platforms which are the tools through which this content is spreading they also have to take responsibility in terms of what they are allowing to be out on their platforms. Detecting a deepfake is very important. It is very important to identify between synthetic and deepfake content,”. 

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