The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has recently directed a reminder to social media platforms, emphasizing the legal repercussions related to deepfake content creation and circulation. This advisory follows a controversial incident involving a fake video purportedly featuring popular actor Rashmika Mandanna.
According to sources, the government has pointed to Section 66D of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which addresses the ‘punishment for cheating by personation by using computer resources.’ The section outlines penalties, including imprisonment for up to three years and a fine of up to one lakh rupees, for those found guilty of using communication devices or computer resources to cheat by personating.
The trigger for this advisory was a viral video that initially appeared to depict Rashmika Mandanna entering an elevator. However, further investigation revealed that the footage was manipulated using deepfake technology, superimposing the face of British-Indian influencer Zara Patel onto Mandanna’s. This revelation raised widespread concerns about the potential consequences of such manipulations, particularly for public figures who could face legal trouble due to misrepresented visuals.
Expressing her distress over the incident, Rashmika Mandanna described the deep fake video as “extremely scary.” She highlighted the broader issue of technology misuse, emphasizing the vulnerability of individuals to harm in today’s digital age.
The film industry, including legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan, echoed these concerns, calling for legal action to address the growing threat of deep fake content. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, affirmed the government’s commitment to ensuring safety and trust in the digital space for Indian citizens.
Chandrasekhar also referred to the IT rules implemented in April 2023, emphasizing platforms’ legal obligation to prevent the spread of misinformation. Platforms are required to promptly remove reported misinformation within 36 hours. Failure to comply can lead to legal action under Rule 7, allowing aggrieved individuals to take platforms to court under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
In a tweet, the minister underscored the urgency of addressing deep fakes, labeling them as a more dangerous and damaging form of misinformation. He called on platforms to take proactive measures in dealing with this evolving threat, using hashtags such as “SafeTrustedInternet,” “Accountable,” and “DigitalIndia.”
As the government takes a stand against the misuse of technology and the potential harm caused by deep fakes, the incident involving Rashmika Mandanna serves as a stark reminder of the need for vigilant measures to protect individuals from the malicious use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the digital realm.