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    Election Commission of India shares social media guidelines directing parties to take down deepfakes within 3 hours

    The Election Commission of India has released special guidelines for “responsible and ethical use of social media platforms” during the Election period. These guidelines came as a response to a complaint filed regarding the spread of edited and AI-manipulated deep fake videos negatively portraying parties and politicians on social media. According to the ECI,

    “The use of such manipulated, distorted, edited content on social media platforms has the potential to wrongfully sway voter opinions, deepen societal divisions, and erode trust in electioneering process.” 

    The ECI also made special note of the scale of the spread of misinformation on social media calling it “dangerously unrestrained due to the availability of the option of ‘forwarding/re-sharing/ re-posting/ re-tweeting’ on the social media platforms.”

     Guidelines for political parties

    The ECI’s guidelines prohibit political parties from carrying out the following actions on social media:

    Disseminate any misinformation: Political parties are prohibited from sharing any patently false, untrue or misleading information. This includes synthetic content created or modified to present false or distorted information as true.

    Impersonate another person: Political parties must not impersonate other persons including political parties or their representatives on social media

    Post which is derogatory towards women: Political parties must not post or promote content that is repugnant to the honour and dignity of women

    Content of children: Political parties must not use children in their campaigns as stated in the Commission previously in an advisory.

    Portray violence against animals: Parties must not portray violence, harm or harassment of animals.

    Use AI to spread misinformation: Parties must refrain from using AI-based tools to distort information or spread falsehoods in a way that affects a free and fair election.

    Publish and circulate deepfake audios/videos: Parties are prohibited from sharing and circulating deepfake audios/videos on social media platforms that do not follow the existing regulations for a fair election process.

    Obligations for political parties under the guidelines

     Political parties are required to:

    • Take down any deepfake audios/videos within a period of 3 hours from social media platforms and also identify and warn the responsible person within the party.
    • Report fake social media accounts impersonating official social media handles to the social media platform. Following this, they must approach the Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) under Rule 3A of the Information Technology.

    Current framework of regulation

    The ECI also reminded political parties of the current regulations and obligations that concern preventing the spread of information. These regulations span the Model Code of Conduct, the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code ) Rules 2021, the Indian Penal Code and the Representation of People Act (1950 and 1951).

    Here are the laws applicable to prevent the spread of misinformation during elections :

    • Section 66C of the IT Act: Punishes individuals who fraudulently make use of the unique identification feature (such as electronic signature, password, etc.) of any other person.
    • Section 66D of the IT Act: Punishes individuals who use communication devices or computer resources with the intent of impersonation or cheating.
    • Section 123(4) of the RP Act, 1951: Prohibits attributing any false statement to a person. These statements could be in relation to the personal character or conduct of a candidate, their candidature or their withdrawal from the candidature.
    • Section 171G of IPC: Prohibits publishing a false statement about the personal character or conduct of any candidate with intent to affect the result of an election.
    • Section 465 of IPC: Punishes instances of forgery.
    • Section 469 of IPC: Punishes forgery of a document or electronic record committed with the intent to harm the reputation of any party.
    • Section 505 of IPC: Prohibits creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill will between classes.
    • Paragraph (I)(2) of the Model Code of Conduct: The MCC states that criticism of other political parties and candidates shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work. Criticism must not extend to any aspects of private life or instances not connected to public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. Further, it prohibits criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion.

     The Election Commission once again reminded political parties of their constant directions to maintain decorum and utmost restraint in public campaigning.

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    The post Election Commission of India shares social media guidelines directing parties to take down deepfakes within 3 hours appeared first on MediaNama.

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