Rashmika Mandanna Deepfake: Government Asks Social Media Firms To Remove Misinformation

In response to the controversy surrounding the viral deepfake video of actor Rashmika Mandanna, the Union Government has issued an advisory to significant social media intermediaries, urging them to actively identify and remove misinformation and deepfake content from their platforms, in line with the provisions outlined in the IT Rules 2021.
Additionally, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for electronics and information technology of India, through his X account, emphasised the government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and trust of all digital citizens using the internet.
Under this advisory, the intermediaries are instructed to ensure they are careful in recognising and addressing misinformation and deepfakes as soon as possible. It is mandated that they take down any such reported content within 36 hours of receiving the report. 
Failure to comply with these regulations could result in the application of Rule 7 of the IT Rules 2021, which may lead to legal repercussions for the platforms.
Chandrasekhar highlighted the government’s firm commitment to the safety and trust of digital citizens, particularly women and children, who are often targeted by such content. 
He urged individuals affected by deepfakes to file FIRs at local police stations and utilise the legal remedies provided under the IT Rules 2021.
However, the experts that BQ Prime spoke to highlighted that specific regulations dealing with deepfakes which come under the umbrella issue of AI are required.
The government is already cognisant of this, and we are likely to see a new regulatory framework under the Digital India Act, which the government is set to implement soon, according to Tanu Banerjee, partner at Khaitan & Co.
Deepfakes refer to digitally manipulated videos or audio that use advanced artificial intelligence technology to create fabricated content. In many instances, deepfakes are utilised to depict individuals, including actors, as of a different gender, which can result in ridicule and embarrassment for the subjects while generating profit for the creators. 
These manipulated videos often attract significant attention and viewership, thereby benefiting those who produce them.
The issue to deepfakes reignites the debate on whether social media platforms should be obligated to trace and reveal the ‘first originator’ of a message, according to Ranjana Adhikari, partner at IndusLaw.
Furthermore, deepfake technology is frequently exploited to produce fake explicit content involving well-known personalities, amplifying the potential harm and damage to their reputation and privacy.
Artificial intelligence has catalysed the misuse of celebrities’ personas for personal profit and fraud using deepfakes and generative AI, Pravin Anand, managing partner at Anand and Anand, an IP law firm, had earlier told BQ Prime about the challenges posed by AI to celebrities. 
Highlighting the need for effective regulatory measures to deal with deepfakes, Soumen Datta, partner at BDO India, said that since the issue becomes even more concerning when applied to an average individual, it is important to have specific laws against deepfakes in countries like India, where we are dealing with a massive 140 crore+ population with an emerging presence on social media platforms.
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