The Indian government has sent a strong reminder to social media platforms following the viral circulation of a deepfakevideo featuring actor Rashmika Mandanna. The deepfake video, created using Artificial Intelligence (AI), has raised significant concerns about the potential for AI to be misused to spread disinformation. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued an advisory to social media platforms, emphasizing the legal provisions and potential penalties that may apply to the creation and distribution of deepfake content.

The government has specifically referred to Section 66D of the Information Technology Act, 2000. This section pertains to the “punishment for cheating by personation by using a computer resource” and outlines penalties for individuals involved in such activities. It states that anyone who uses a communication device or computer resource for cheating by personation may face imprisonment for up to three years and could also be liable for a fine of up to one lakh rupees.

The government’s advisory comes in response to the alarming spread of a viral video that initially appeared to depict RashmikaMandanna entering an elevator. However, it was later revealed that the video was a deepfake, and the face of British-Indian influencer Zara Patel had been digitally superimposed onto Ms. Mandanna’s face.

This revelation has raised significant concerns about the potential consequences of such deepfake manipulations, particularly for public figures whose images can be manipulated to create misleading or damaging content.

Rashmika Mandanna expressed her distress about the deepfakevideo and highlighted the broader implications of such technology. She described the episode as “extremely scary,” not only for herself but for everyone vulnerable to potential harm due to the misuse of technology.

Several voices in the Indian film industry, including the legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan, have raised the issue and called for legal action to address deepfake-related concerns.

Rajeev Chandrsekhar, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, emphasized the Indian government’s commitment to ensuring safety and trust for its citizens online. He referred to the IT rules introduced in April 2023, which legally obligate platforms to prevent the posting of misinformation by users. These rules require platforms to remove reported misinformation within 36 hours, or they may face legal consequences.

Chandrsekhar highlighted the significance of deepfakes as a particularly dangerous and damaging form of misinformation that platforms need to address.

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