India Warns Legal Consequences For Tech Companies Over Deepfake Inaction

What do an Indian cricket legend and one of the most famous American singers have in common? Deepfake scams.

Following a rise in deepfake advertisements in the country, India has issued a warning to tech companies that it is prepared to impose bans if they fail to take appropriate measures against them.

This comes after an ad went viral using a deepfake of Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar to endorse a gaming app.  

Only last week Taylor Swift was involved in a similar AI scam, with her deepfake likeness seemingly endorsing Le Creuset cookware products, sparking concern over a rise of deepfakes in the mainstream.

Efforts To End Deepfakes

India’s junior minister for information technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar told press that the ministry had informed tech platforms that failure to take action against deepfakes would result in legal consequences from New Delhi.

He also confirmed that the ministry plans to change the nation’s IT rules imminently, in order to establish definitive laws around deepfakes that will counteract their use.

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Speaking to a press conference, Chandrasekhar stated: “If a platform thinks that they can get away without taking down deepfake videos, or merely maintain a casual approach to it, we have the power to protect our citizens by blocking such platforms.”

Tendulkar, one of India’s best-loved cricketers and the man whose likeness was used in the gaming ad that sparked the recent conversation, wrote on Twitter/X: “It is disturbing to see rampant misuse of technology. Social media platforms need to be alert and responsive to complaints. Swift action from their end is crucial to stopping the spread of misinformation and deepfakes.” 

“Unlawful And Dangerous”

Currently, India’s IT rules state that social media platforms have to ensure that “no misinformation is posted by any user.” Should they fail to comply, the platforms can be taken to court under Indian law. 

While the new rules around deepfakes are yet to be confirmed, it’s likely they will contain similar constraints and instruct platforms to remove the videos immediately when flagged. 

“Deepfake content is unlawful and dangerous, and it is unacceptable for companies to hide behind claims of ‘best-effort’ while allowing these fabrications to spread.” – Chandrasekhar

Celebrity Deepfakes On The Rise

Unfortunately this incident isn’t isolated, as it appears India is battling a rise in deepfakes, specifically within Bollywood. AI expert Aarti Samani has put this down to a young population, obsession with celebrity culture, and heavy use of social media. The result? “[deepfake] videos spreading quickly, magnifying the problem,” she explained.

The issue is growing further afield too, with the recent case of Taylor Swift and her supposed cookware endorsement, as well as a deepfake of YouTuber MrBeast being linked to a 2023 iPhone scam.

While many think they’re not susceptible to falling for a likeness, it has been proven that humans can only spot deepfake speech 73% of the time. This in itself causes particular concern as it’s election year here in the United States, the United Kingdom, and India, and an invasion of deepfakes on social media has already started to disrupt campaigns.

If you’re a consumer of the platforms and media that deepfakes are infiltrating, our advice would be to think critically as to whether a celebrity would endorse a particular campaign, and if in doubt, use an AI image detector.

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Written by:
Ellis Di Cataldo (MA) has over 9 years experience writing about, and for, some of the world’s biggest tech companies. She's been the lead writer across digital campaigns, always-on content and worldwide product launches, for global brands including Sony, Electrolux, Byrd, The Open University and Barclaycard. Her particular areas of interest are business trends, startup stories and product news.
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