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    Google and Microsoft tell Delhi HC, AI not capable of taking down non-consensual intimate images

    The Delhi High Court on May 9 ordered Google and Microsoft to file a review petition seeking recall of a previous order that required search engines to swiftly disable access to non-consensual intimate images (NCII) without requiring the victim to provide specific URLs repeatedly.

    Bar and Bench reported, that in its appeal to the Courts Microsoft and Google today argued that it is technologically impossible for Search Engines to identify and proactively takedown NCII images. They argued that even Artificial Intelligence tools were not advanced enough to identify these images.

    Speaking about taking down NCII images without URLs, Senior Advocate Jayant Mehta appearing for Microsoft said ,”Technology is evolving but we have not reached that stage yet. To say that you [search engines] are required to do it today otherwise your immunity is gone, that can’t be. It is work in progress. I am endeavouring to reach it. But to say that I must do it today is not fair.”

    Context to the Order

    In 2023, the Delhi High Court ordered that Search Engines must takedown NCII within 24 hours, as per the IT Rules, 2021 or risk the loss of their safe harbour protections under Section 79 of the IT Act,2000.

    It instructed search engines to issue a unique token upon the initial takedown of NCII. If the token resurfaced it would be the responsibility of the search engine to use pre-existing technology to disable the content. The rationale behind this was to provide a solution to the issue of victims having to keep track of, and repeatedly approach authorities with, specific URLs every time this content resurfaced.

    The Court recommended also using hash-matching technology, that are already used by platforms (including the defendant Microsoft) to remove child sexual abuse material. It also noted the current process of reporting, goes against the objective of the IT Rules,2021 ,removing illegal content in a time-bound manner.

    Further, they suggested that the  IT Ministry and search engines develop a “trusted third-party encrypted platform” for victims to register the NCII content or URL under. This would put the onus of identifying and taking down the resurfaced content on the platform, and reduce the victim’s burden of “scouring” the Internet for NCII. The platform should be “subject to [the] greatest of transparency and accountability standards,” given the sensitive data involved, they said.

     Search Engines’ concerns

    Google had previously stated that automated tools were unable to pick out  “the factor of consent” which is an essential for categorization of NCII. These tools can cause takedowns of consensually-shared sexual content, which Google said could have “adverse repercussions, especially on the exercise of free speech.”

    Aside from the concerns of technological feasibility, Microsoft also mentioned that this proactive monitoring could lead to “privatized censorship” and harm freedom of speech.

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    The post Google and Microsoft tell Delhi HC, AI not capable of taking down non-consensual intimate images appeared first on MediaNama.

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