India gives social media platforms 36 hours to remove deepfakes

Today it's Bollywood actors, tomorrow it could be lawmakers themselves

India's Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) this week issued an advisory saying social media companies need to remove deepfakes from their platforms within 36 hours after they're reported.

"It is a legal obligation for online platforms to prevent the spread of misinformation by any user under the Information Technology (IT) rules, 2021. They are further mandated to remove such content within 36 hours upon receiving a report from either a user or government authority," said Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar in the advisory.

The ministry warned that failure to act would mean an organization would not be protected from being held liable for third-party information hosted on their sites.

Chandrasekhar encouraged those who find themselves impacted by deepfakes to file First Information Reports (FIRs) at the police station.

The advisory came after Indian actor Rashmika Mandanna made a statement online regarding a viral deepfake video she unwittingly stars in.

"Something like this is honestly extremely scary, not only for me, but also for each one of us who today is vulnerable to so much harm because of how technology is being misused," shared Mandanna.

"We need to address this as a community and with urgency before more of us are affected by such identity theft," added the Bollywood star.

Chandrasekhar retweeted a post calling for urgent legal and regulatory frameworks addressing deepfakes.

The minister reminded readers that prompt removal of deepfakes is already a legal obligation under IT rules issued in April 2021.

Last month, the government reportedly sought to acquire the identity of persons who initially shared a deepfake of politicians across WhatsApp.

The controversial law that would require WhatsApp to comply and share the identity was challenged in 2021 by both WhatsApp and parent company Meta over privacy concerns. WhatsApp has also said compliance poses a threat to end-to-end encryption.

That case is still undecided and remains before the courts.

Other actors who have found themselves the unwilling subject of deepfakes include Scarlett Johansson, Bruce Willis, and Tom Hanks.

Last week, Johansson's lawyers sought to remove the AI advert that lifted her image and persona.

But if the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) gets its way, AI-generated images of actors would be the norm. The org is currently deadlocked with striking US actors over its desire to acquire rights to images for the purpose of AI replication. ®

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