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30 Jan, 2024 10:41

New Delhi to hold tech giants accountable for deepfakes – minister

The Indian government is wary of AI’s potential to stir up problems, a senior figure has told the Financial Times
New Delhi to hold tech giants accountable for deepfakes – minister

New Delhi has “woken up” to the dangers of AI-generated deepfakes and will hold social media companies accountable for any such content on their platforms, a senior official in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has told the Financial Times.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for electronics and IT, said the country is “deeply concerned” about the impact of “cross-border actors” spreading disinformation through deepfakes to stir problems ahead of the general election scheduled for April or May in the world’s most populous nation.

“We have been alert to this earlier than most countries because it impacts us in bad ways much more than smaller countries,” Chandrasekhar was quoted as saying by the UK newspaper on Monday. Out of India’s 1.4 billion population, 600 million use social media.

The Indian government issued an advisory in December mandating that digital and social media platforms communicate content prohibited under IT rules “clearly and precisely” to users. New Delhi has also warned that platforms could lose ‘safe harbor immunity’ and be liable to criminal and judicial proceedings if they fail to implement the prescribed measures.

“Our approach to deepfakes after the prime minister drew attention to it is to tell the intermediaries, to draw their attention to the fact that the law of the land prohibits any user on their platform from hosting misinformation, including deepfakes,” Chandrasekhar told the FT.

He added that New Delhi is creating a form of tech regulation that is “in between” the US and Europe. “The US leaves it completely to markets; Europe does it completely citizen-oriented; and we are basically saying ‘We love innovation, we will encourage innovation, but we want to protect our small businesses and users’.”

Amid increasing scrutiny, social media platforms including Meta, X, and TikTok now require deceptive manipulated media to be taken down or labeled. Meta and Google have also announced policies requiring campaigns to disclose if their political adverts have been digitally altered.

Despite flagging AI threats to “security” and “democracy,” India has also been clear about its intent to harness the potential of AI, primarily to advance education and entrepreneurship.

Speaking at the Global Technology Summit in New Delhi last month, Chandrasekhar stressed that New Delhi would not “demonize” the technology and highlighted healthcare, agriculture, and education as areas that it would seek to boost with AI.

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