Deepfake Technology: A Growing Threat that Steals your Face

29 Nov 2023  Read 5585 Views

Have you ever wondered if your face or voice could be used without your permission? Imagine a world where someone can create videos that look exactly like you, saying things you've never said. That's the unsettling reality of deepfake technology. In India, even though it's not widespread in politics, there's growing concern about the potential misuse of deepfakes. So, how did we get here, and what can we do to protect ourselves from this digital threat? 

Let's dive into the world of deepfakes, exploring the need for quick government action and the role our legislation plays in keeping us safe.

What is Deepfake technology?

Deepfake is a technology that relies on artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, particularly generative adversarial networks (GANs), to produce synthetic media such as images, videos, and audio. Let's discuss this in detail:

  1. The process involves "deep learning," which draws inspiration from how our brains function to process and understand large volumes of data. 

  2. Deepfake employs a complex architecture consisting of two neural networks, namely the Generator and the Discriminator. 

  3. The Generator creates synthetic content, while the Discriminator distinguishes between genuine and generated data. 

  4. The two teams work together to play a game where they practice, get better, and create fake content that closely resembles reality.

  5. The ultimate goal of Deepfake is to produce indistinguishable content from genuine content, blurring the lines between what is real and what is synthetic.

Did you know?

According to the State of Deepfakes report of 2023, India is the sixth most vulnerable country to deepfakes. So, the government is now stepping in, promising new rules to tackle this issue. 🤯

 

Laws against Deepfake technology 

The Centre has given a strong warning to big social media companies, telling them to be careful in finding and stopping fake information and deepfake videos. They want the companies to quickly remove any content that breaks the rules, following the IT Rules of 2021. The main law dealing with deepfakes is the IT Act of 2000, specifically Section 66 and its Rules. However, it can be seen that these laws might not be enough to deal with such an issue. Let's dig in one by one:

Section 66 D of the IT Act of 2000

  • Section 66D of the IT Act punishes people who pretend to be someone else online to cheat others. If caught, they could go to jail for up to three years and be fined up to ₹1 lakh. This ensures that those who use deepfakes for harmful reasons face serious consequences under the law.

Section 66E of the IT Act of 2000 

  • It is applicable in cases of deepfake crimes that involve capturing, publishing or transmitting a person’s images in mass media, violating their privacy. This offence is punishable with imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to ₹2 lakh.

Rules for Intermediaries

  • Under Rule 3(1)(b)(vii) of IT Intermediary Rules, intermediaries are mandated to uphold due diligence. This includes explicit guidelines in privacy policies or user agreements, prohibiting hosting content that impersonates others, and directly combating the deepfake threat.

  • Intermediaries were also reminded that failure to comply with the IT Act and Rules could trigger Rule 7 of IT Rules 2021.

  • Non-compliance may jeopardise the protection under Section 79(1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, designed to shield intermediaries from liability.

Rule 3(2)(b) of IT Intermediary Rules     

  • Rule 3(2)(b) sets a rapid response timeframe, requiring intermediaries to take action within 24 hours of receiving a complaint.

  • This pertains specifically to content involving impersonation, including artificially morphed images, emphasizing the urgency of combating deepfakes.

Offences committed using Deepfake technology

There is a wide range of possibilities for commissioning crimes using deepfake technology. The technology itself does not pose a threat. However, it can be used to commit crimes against individuals and society. The following offences can be executed using deepfake:

  1. Identity theft and virtual forgery- Deepfakes, using stolen identities or creating fake versions of people, aren't just pranks – they're serious crimes. These high-tech tricks can harm someone's reputation, spread lies, and mess with public opinion. Like Section 66-C of the IT Act, 2000, the law is ready to tackle these digital offences. Even old-school laws like Sections 420 and 468 of the Penal Code, 1860, can be pulled in to deal with the troublemakers behind the screen.  

  2. Misinformation against Governments- Using deepfakes to spread lies about the government is a big problem. It creates confusion, messes with public trust, and can influence political outcomes. Laws like Section 66-F and the Intermediary Guidelines are ready to prosecute these digital crimes. And if things get severe, old laws like Sections 121 and 124-A deal with those trying to wage war against the government.  

  3. Hate speech and online defamation- Deepfakes spreading hate speech or defamatory content are serious problems, harming individuals and the online environment. Laws like the Intermediary Guidelines are set to prosecute these crimes, along with IPC sections 153-A, 153-B, and 499.  

  4. Practices affection elections- Using deepfakes to spread fake info about political candidates can disrupt elections. Laws like Sections 66-D and 66-F of the IT Act are ready to prosecute these crimes. Additionally, sections of the Representation of the People Act and a voluntary code of ethics from IAMAI can be invoked to combat this menace in Indian elections.

  5. Violation of privacy/ obscenity and pornography- Deepfakes, creating fake images or videos, can harm reputations and spread false info, affecting individuals and society. Misuse, like non-consensual pornography or political propaganda, is a serious concern. Laws like Sections 66-E, 67, and 67-A of the IT Act are ready to prosecute these offences. Sections from the Penal Code and POCSO can also be invoked to protect the rights of women and children from such malicious use of deepfake technology. 

What can we do to protect ourselves from this digital threat?

  • Be cautious about what you share online, especially personal images and videos. Keep your privacy settings high to make it challenging for deepfake tools to get the needed data.

  • Strengthen your online defences by using robust passwords across all your accounts. This adds an extra layer of protection against hackers trying to access your visuals.

  • Employ a reliable antivirus program to safeguard your computer from potential malware threats that could be exploited for creating deepfakes.

  • Stay vigilant for videos or images that seem too good to be true. If something feels off, it might be a deepfake. Think twice before sharing or believing it.

  • Apply watermarks to your visuals to act as a deterrent against potential misuse. While not foolproof, it adds an extra challenge for anyone attempting to claim your work as their own.

  • Keep your metadata accurate and up-to-date. This embedded information can include details about the copyright owner, creation date, and location, serving as evidence of ownership in case of disputes.

Also read Important provisions of the IT Act 2000: Safeguarding Digital Spaces

Suggestions 

The issue of deepfakes is a matter of global concern and would require international cooperation and collaboration to regulate their use and prevent privacy violations effectively. Governments could consider implementing measures such as the censorship approach, which involves stopping the spread of fake content by instructing websites to take it down. Alternatively, they could adopt the punitive approach, which would make those spreading fake information pay for the damage, whether they are individuals or organisations. Another approach is to make online platforms responsible for quickly removing fake content, as the intermediary regulation approach suggests. Failure to do so could result in legal consequences under Sections 69-A and 79 of the IT Act.

Also read Analysis of Right to Privacy in Modern Era

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is of utmost importance to address the growing concern of privacy in the age of deepfake technology. The safety of individuals in the online realm is at stake. The existing IT Act of 2000 is insufficient in dealing with cybercrimes involving artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deepfakes. It is crucial to revise the legislation and include provisions that specifically address the challenges posed by deepfakes. By implementing strict measures and penalties for malicious use, we can better protect individuals from unauthorised manipulation of their images. Updating our legal framework is essential to effectively combat the ever-changing digital deception landscape and ensure a safer online environment for everyone.

Read Tips and Tricks to remember Indian constitution

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About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 275 Post(s)

She is a Legal Content Manager at Finology Legal! With a Masters in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), a BBA.LL.B from ITM University, and patent analyst training from IIPTA, she truly specializes in her field. Her passion for IPR and Criminal laws is evident from her advanced certification in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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