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Take down deepfakes within 24 hours, IT Ministry tells social media platforms: Report

MeitY’s order to take down deepfakes comes a day after a similar clip of actor Rashmika Mandanna started circulating on various platforms.

Updated on November 8, 2023, at 9:42 AM: In a press release, MeitY confirmed that it sent the advisories. It also mentioned that failure to act as per the provisions of the IT Rules could “could render the organisation liable to losing the protection available under Section 79(1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.” This section protects platforms from being held liable for any any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by them.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has issued advisories to social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, to take down deepfake content within 24 hours, according to a report by the Indian Express. This comes a day after the deep fakes of actress Rashmika Mandanna began making rounds on social media platforms. 

Under Rule 3(1)(b) of the IT Rules, 2021, platforms are required to inform users and make reasonable efforts to cause their users not to host content that spreads misinformation or impersonates another person.

Speaking about the issue the Minister of State for IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted that platforms are required to take down misinformation within 36 hours of being informed and if they fail to comply, they can be taken to court by the aggrieved. Note that this 36-hour timeline only applies when it’s a government or court order. In this specific case of artificially morphed images, platforms are required to remove them within 24 hours of receiving a complaint from the victim as per Rule 3(2)(b) of the IT Rules, 2021.

Some context:

This isn’t the first time that MeitY has urged for the removal of deepfakes. In February this year, the Economic Times reported that the ministry had sent an advisory to platforms like LinkedIn, Sharechat, and Snapchat urging them to take “all reasonable and practicable measures to remove or disable access to deep fake imagery”.

Similarly, earlier this month it was reported that the Indian government was gearing up to tackle the spread of deepfakes of politicians on WhatsApp saying that it would “cause harm to electoral integrity in India.” As such, reports said that the government was asking WhatsApp to hand over the details of the user who first began sharing these deepfakes.

Why it matters:

Deepfakes pose a serious threat to an individual or organization’s reputation. They can be used to spread misinformation about a situation or even harass an individual. MeitY’s action, in this case, signals that the government is giving increased importance to this issue, especially as it heads to polls in 2024. It reiterated the same during the Monsoon session of the parliament session, stating that the IT Rules would provide “safeguards from such threats related to deep fakes to citizens/users.”

You can watch the discussion here:

Note: The story was updated on November 24, 2023, at 08:05 AM to correct a factual error about the relevant provisions in the IT Rules, 2021, and their applicability.


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