Why has the Govt. issued a Directive on Deepfakes?


Context: On 8 November, the Indian government instructed “social media intermediaries” to remove morphed videos or deepfakes from their platforms within 24 hours of a complaint being filed, in accordance with a requirement outlined in the IT Rules 2021

The instructions came as deepfake videos of actors Rashmika Mandanna and Katrina Kaif surfaced online within the span of one week.


What are deepfakes?

  • Deepfakes, originated in 2017 refers to videos, audios or images created using a form of artificial intelligence called deep learning
  • The term became popular when a Reddit contributor used publicly available AI-driven software to impose the faces of celebrities onto the bodies of people in pornographic videos
  • In 2023, deepfake tech, with the help of AI tools, allows semi and unskilled individuals to create fake content with morphed audio-visual clips and images. 
  • Cyfirma, a cybersecurity company observed 230% increase in deepfake usage by cybercriminals and scammers, and have predicted the technology would replace phishing in a couple of years.


How does deepfake technology work?


  • The technology involves modifying or creating images and videos using a machine learning technique called generative adversarial network (GAN)
  • The AI-driven software detects and learns the subjects’ movements and facial expressions from the source material and then duplicates these in another video or image. 
    • To ensure that the deepfake created is as close to real as possible, creators use a large database of source images. 
    • This is why more deepfake videos are created of public figures, celebrities and politicians. 
  • The dataset is then used by one software to create a fake video, while a second software is used to detect signs of forgery in it. 
    • Through the collaborative work of the two software, the fake video is rendered until the second software package can no longer detect the forgery. 
    • This is known as “unsupervised learning”, when machine-language models teach themselves. The method makes it difficult for other software to identify deepfakes.


What do laws in India say about deepfakes?

  • India’s IT Rules, 2021 require that all content reported to be fake or produced using deep fake be taken down by intermediary platforms within 36 hours.
  • The Indian IT ministry has also issued notices to social media platforms stating that impersonating online was illegal under Section 66D of the Information Technology Act of 2000.
  • The IT Rules, 2021, also prohibit hosting any content that impersonates another person and requires social media firms to take down artificially morphed images when alerted.


Why do people create deepfake content?

  • The technology could potentially be used to incite political violence, sabotage elections, unsettle diplomatic relations, and spread misinformation
  • This technology can also be used to humiliate and blackmail people or attack organisations by presenting false evidence. 
  • However, deepfakes have positive usages as well. 
    • The technology has been used by the ALS Association in collaboration with a company to use voice-cloning technology to help people with ALS digitally recreate their voices in the future.


How have other countries reacted?

  • The EU has issued guidelines for the creation of an independent network of fact-checkers to help analyse the sources and processes of content creation. 
  • The U.S. has also introduced the bipartisan Deepfake Task Force Act to counter deepfake technology.


Imp for: UPSC Prelims, UPSC GS Mains Paper III

Topic: Deepfakes, Artificial Intelligence, Science & Technology





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