Regulating deepfakes and AI in India

Regulating deepfakes and AI in India


Deepfakes, manipulated through Artificial Intelligence (AI), pose threats to reputation and trust in democratic institutions.


GS – 03 (Artificial Intelligence, Government Policies & Interventions)


Deepfake technology, Deep synthesis technology, Artificial Intelligence technology, blockchain technology

Mains Question:

Examine the impact of deepfake technology on democratic processes and assess India’s existing legal framework to combat its misuse. Propose measures for a comprehensive regulatory approach to emerging technologies like AI. (250 words)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Understanding Deepfakes
  • Positive Applications of Deep Learning
  • Concerns Surrounding Deepfakes
  • Harms and Violations
  • Detection Measures
  • Legal Framework in India

Understanding Deepfakes:

  • Deepfakes represent a form of synthetic media that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to manipulate or generate visual and audio content, typically with the intent to deceive or mislead individuals.
  • Creation of Deepfakes: These deceptive creations are brought to life through a technique known as generative adversarial networks (GANs), which involve two competing neural networks: a generator and a discriminator. The generator’s role is to produce fake yet realistic images or videos, while the discriminator endeavors to distinguish between the authentic and the counterfeit. Through continuous learning and feedback, the generator refines its output to successfully deceive the discriminator.
  • Data Requirements: Deepfake generation demands a substantial amount of data, often sourced without consent or knowledge from the internet or social media. This data includes extensive information about both the source and target individuals.

Positive Applications of Deep Learning:

  • While deep learning technology has empowered positive advancements, such as restoring lost voices and recreating historical figures, it has also found applications in comedy, cinema, music, and gaming to enhance artistic expression.
  • Synthetic avatars created through deep learning benefit individuals with disabilities, enabling them to express themselves online. Moreover, it aids medical training by generating realistic images for simulation, improving efficiency in training scenarios, and enhances interactions in augmented reality (AR) and gaming applications.

Concerns Surrounding Deepfakes:

  • The versatility of deepfake technology poses significant concerns, including its potential for spreading propaganda, fake news, influencing elections, and damaging the reputation of individuals.
  • Malicious uses range from blackmailing and extortion to the creation of non-consensual pornography. These actions can erode trust in institutions, media, and democracy, while also undermining the rule of law and human rights.

Harms and Violations:

  • Beyond these concerns, deepfakes can inflict harm by violating privacy, dignity, and reputation. The mental health and well-being of victims, particularly women who are often targeted, can be severely impacted by this malicious manipulation.

Detection Measures:

  • Several methods can be employed to detect deepfakes, including scrutinizing visual and audio inconsistencies, performing reverse image searches to trace original sources, utilizing AI-based tools for authenticity analysis, and employing digital watermarking or blockchain for source verification.
  • Additionally, education about deepfake technology and its implications is crucial for individuals to protect themselves and others from potential harm.

Legal Framework in India:

  • India currently lacks dedicated legislation to ban or regulate the use of deepfake technology. The country has advocated for a global framework emphasizing “ethical” AI tools to address the expanding landscape of artificial intelligence.
  • While existing laws, such as Sections 67 and 67A of the Information Technology Act (2000), offer provisions that can be applied to certain aspects of deepfakes, such as defamation and the dissemination of explicit material, they fall short of addressing the unique challenges posed by this technology. Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (1860) deals with defamation, and the Digital Personal Data Protection Act provides some safeguards against the misuse of personal data.
  • The Information Technology Rules, 2021, play a role by mandating the prompt removal of content that impersonates others and features artificially morphed images, ensuring action within 36 hours.
  • However, the current legal landscape in India lacks a comprehensive framework explicitly tailored to combat the multifaceted issues associated with deepfakes. This legislative gap needs urgent attention to safeguard privacy, maintain social stability, ensure national security, and uphold the democratic fabric of the country.
  • Centre’s Response: The Union Minister acknowledges the emerging crisis due to deepfakes and announces draft regulations. However, opinions differ on the adequacy of existing laws.

Way Forward:

  • Proposals for a comprehensive regulatory approach to AI governance in India are crucial. It underscores the importance of assimilating AI responsibly for the betterment of society. The evolving nature of deepfake threats requires proactive measures, awareness building, and a robust legal framework that adapts to emerging technologies.