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Centre issues advisory to social media platforms to comply with IT rules amid growing concerns on deep fakes

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The Centre has advised all social media platforms to comply with IT rules amid growing concerns around misinformation powered by AI – deepfakes. In an advisory, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said, the intermediaries should communicate prohibited content, particularly those specified under the IT Rules, clearly and precisely to users.

This advisory is the culmination of the discussions held by Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar during Digital India dialogues with intermediaries within one month.
 
The content not permitted under the IT Rules, in particular those listed under Rule 3(1)(b) must be communicated to the users including through its terms of service and user agreements and the same must be expressly informed to the user at the time of first-registration and also as regular reminders, in particular, at every instance of login and while uploading or sharing information onto the platform.

The advisory emphasises that digital intermediaries must ensure users are informed about penal provisions, including those in the IPC and the IT Act 2000, in case of violations. In addition, the terms of service and user agreements must highlight that intermediaries or platforms are under obligation to report legal violations to law enforcement agencies under the relevant Indian laws applicable to the context.
 
Rule 3(1)(b) within the due diligence section of the IT rules mandates intermediaries to communicate their rules, regulations, privacy policy, and user agreement in the user’s preferred language. They are also obliged to ensure reasonable efforts to prevent users from hosting, displaying, uploading, modifying, publishing, transmitting, storing, updating, or sharing any information related to the 11 listed user harms or content prohibited on digital intermediaries. This rule aims to ensure platforms identify and promptly remove misinformation, false or misleading content, and material impersonating others, including deepfakes.
 
Over one month, Mr Chandrasekhar has convened pivotal stakeholder meetings with industry leaders to address the pressing issue of deepfakes. During the meeting, he highlighted the urgency for all platforms and intermediaries to strictly adhere to the current laws and regulations, emphasizing that the IT rules comprehensively address the menace of deepfakes. He stated that misinformation represents a deep threat to the safety and trust of users on the Internet. Deepfake which is misinformation powered by AI, further amplifies the threat to safety and trust of our Digital citizens.
 
On the 17th of last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi alerted the country to the dangers of deep fakes and post that, the Ministry had two Digital India Dialogues with all the stakeholders of the Indian Internet to alert them about the provisions of the IT Rules notified in October 2022 and amended in April 2023 that lays out 11 specific prohibited types of content on all social media intermediaries and platforms.

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