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    BJP files complaint with ECI, raising concerns about deepfakes

    The BJP has filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India (ECI) about deepfake videos circulating on social media. Led by IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, the complaint comes days after an edited video of Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah was circulated on social media. The BJP called to mandate social media platforms to enhance detection and removal of deepfakes related to elections, block repeat offenders, and run prominent newspaper ads about their prevalence, Hindustan Times reported.

    Cases of misinformation during election

    The edited video of Amit Shah, brought to the attention of the ECI, does not appear to be manipulated using AI, but simply edited. The original video depicted Amit Shah at a rally saying that the BJP, if brought to power, will put an end to reservations for Muslims in favour of reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs. However, it was edited to depict him saying that the Government would put an end to reservations for all SCs, STs and OBCs. Following the circulation of the video, complaints were filed against those sharing the video widely. The video was also shared on X, by Indian National Congress Telangana.

     

    Thus, Telangana Chief Minister and head of The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee, Revanth Reddy was summoned by Delhi Police.

    In addition to this, Assam Police arrested  Reetom Singh, ‘War Room Coordinator’ for the Congress Party in Guwahati for his contribution in circulation of the video. Assam Police Chief Public Relations Officer Pranabjyoti Goswami said in a statement, “The case has been registered under IPC Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 171G (false statement in connection with an election) and 505(1)(b) (causing fear or alarm to the public whereby a person induced to commit an offence against the state or public tranquility).Section 66F of the IT Act (cyber terrorism) has also been slapped on the accused.” Singh’s phone and laptop were also seized.

    At a rally in Satara, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the controversy and urged citizens to beware of “fake videos” and inform necessary authorities before circulating videos.

    The complaint to the ECI, also brought up other cases of politically motivated deepfakes circulated on social media. They specifically took note of recent cases of deepfakes of actors Aamir Khan and Ranveer Singh being altered with AI to criticise the BJP. Both actors had filed an FIR with the Mumbai Police over this.

    Lack of legislation to regulate deepfakes

    Despite the widespread concern on the impact of deepfakes on elections being brought to fore, it is worth noting that India does not have regulations yet to combat the problem of deepfakes. In 2023, Ashwini Vaishnaw had announced that the Government will be working on rules for regulating deepfakes. This announcement came right after Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised flags on its dangers.

    Aside from this, IT Ministry sent an advisory to all platforms in 2023, urging them to comply with India’s platform regulation laws and reiterated  that platforms that failed to proactively act against deepfakes would lose their safe harbour protection under Section 79 (1) of the IT Act.

    The challenges of deepfakes during elections

    Many had pointed to the threat of deepfakes on elections. At Medianama’s ‘Deepfakes and Democracy’ event, campaign consultant Shivam Shankar Singh noted that the capabilities of AI had the potential to overwhelm the ECI. He said,“ How many people can the election commission really deploy for something like this? It could be thousands and thousands of pieces of content generated every day with something like deep fake technology itself. Generative AI, the entire point is that the cost of generation is like pretty negligible. In such a circumstance, the election commission just stands no chance.”

    In order to combat this, multiple civil societies signed a letter encouraging the ECI to take inspiration from the ‘Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act’ which was introduced in the US in 2023. The Act prohibits the distribution of deceptive AI-generated audio, images, or video relating to federal candidates in political ads or certain issue ads to influence a federal election or fundraise.

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    The post BJP files complaint with ECI, raising concerns about deepfakes appeared first on MediaNama.

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