Strengthening Digital Integrity: India’s Measures Against Deepfakes and Misinformation

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In a proactive move to address the growing concerns surrounding deepfakes and misinformation, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in India has issued a formal advisory to all intermediaries. This advisory, shaped through discussions with industry stakeholders and spearheaded by Union Minister Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, emphasizes strict compliance with existing IT rules to curb the spread of prohibited content outlined in Rule 3(1)(b) of the IT Rules.

Minister Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, holding key portfolios including Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Electronics & IT, and Jal Shakti, played a pivotal role in shaping the advisory. The collaboration involved discussions with industry stakeholders over the past month, resulting in a directive aimed at mitigating the impact of deepfakes and misinformation on digital platforms.

The advisory mandates intermediaries to clearly and precisely communicate the content prohibited under Rule 3(1)(b) to users. It underscores the importance of terms of service and user agreements, emphasizing user awareness of penal provisions under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860 and the IT Act, 2000. Users must be informed about the legal consequences of violating Rule 3(1)(b), promoting transparency in online interactions.

Recognizing the role of intermediaries in maintaining digital integrity, the advisory highlights their obligation to report legal violations to law enforcement agencies under applicable Indian laws. This collaborative effort seeks to ensure that platforms and intermediaries adhere strictly to existing laws, fostering a digital environment where users can trust the information they encounter.

Rule 3(1)(b) within the IT rules mandates intermediaries to communicate their rules, regulations, privacy policy, and user agreement in the user’s preferred language. The rule further obliges platforms to make reasonable efforts to prevent users from hosting, displaying, uploading, or sharing information related to the 11 listed user harms or prohibited content. This proactive approach aims to mitigate the challenges posed by deepfakes, which leverage artificial intelligence to create misleading content.

Minister Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar emphasized the urgent need for platforms and intermediaries to adhere strictly to existing laws, highlighting the comprehensiveness of the IT rules in addressing the menace of deepfakes. He pointed out that misinformation, especially when powered by AI through deepfakes, represents a deep threat to the safety and trust of internet users. The government’s mission, as outlined by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, is to ensure a safe and trusted internet, holding all intermediaries accountable under the law for the safety and trust of the Digital Nagriks (citizens) using the Indian Internet.

India’s advisory to combat deepfakes and misinformation reflects a comprehensive and collaborative effort to safeguard the digital landscape. By enforcing existing IT rules, promoting user awareness, and emphasizing accountability, the government aims to strengthen digital integrity and foster a secure online environment for its citizens. As technology continues to evolve, such proactive measures become essential to stay ahead of emerging challenges in the digital realm.

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