Govt to assist people in filing FIRs against social media firms for deepfakes, other IT rule violations

New Delhi: The government will assist people in filing FIRs against social media platforms in case they are aggrieved by objectionable content like deepfakes that are in violation of IT rules.

Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Friday said the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) will develop a platform on which people can notify the ministry about IT rule violations by social media platforms.

Speaking to the media after a meeting with the representatives of social media platforms here, the minister also said that social media platforms have been given seven days’ time to align their terms of use as per the IT rules.

Further, Chandrasekhar said it will be acceptable for the government if social media platforms label content as deepfake instead of taking down the content.
The ministry will appoint an officer who will deal with the implementation of Rule 7 of IT Rules that were notified in October 2022.
According to Chandrasekhar, the move will enable people who are aggrieved by objectionable content to file First Information Reports (FIRs) against social media platforms.
Meity will put in place a platform through which the aggrieved people can very easily notify the ministry about the violations. Also, a mechanism will be designed by the ministry that will assist them in filing FIRs, he said.
Section 7 of the IT rules deals with revoking the intermediary status of social media platforms and taking action against them as per the Indian Penal Code if they fail to adhere to the rules.
“From today onwards, there will be a slight departure in the way Meity will handle this (violation of IT rules).
“In the past, we were not necessarily going for 100 percent response to 100 percent violations but today onwards, there will be 100 percent compliance, zero tolerance for any violations by any of the platforms,” Chandrasekhar said.
He said the FIR will be registered against the intermediary and if they disclose the details from where the content has originated, then the FIR will be filed against the entity that has posted the content.
Chandrasekhar, who is the Minister of State at Meity, said that social media platforms in the meeting agreed that the current law has a provision, and if they comply with it, then the issue of deepfakes can be dealt with.
“So, the first question I asked them is whether there is anybody in the room who believes that deepfakes are not dealt with in this particular language formulation under Section 3(1)b (v). Everybody agreed that rule 3(1)b (v) is more than adequate. It covers deepfakes very comprehensively,” Chandrasekhar said.
Section 3(1)b (v) of the IT rules requires social media platforms to inform their users about rules and regulations. They also need to make reasonable efforts to check users from posting, storing or sharing content that deceives or misleads users about the origin of the message or knowingly and intentionally communicates any misinformation or information which is patently false and untrue or misleading in nature.
On Thursday, Union Cabinet Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the government will come up with a separate regulation for deepfakes with actionable items on four pillars — detection of deepfakes, preventing the spread of such content, strengthening reporting mechanisms, and spreading awareness on the issue — within ten days.
Responding to a question on the announcement made by Vaishnaw, Chandrasekhar said there is always room for new rules and regulations in the technology space as the IT Act which is in place is about 22-23 years old.
Vaishnaw is the Cabinet Minister and Chandrasekhar is the Minister of State at Meity.
On Friday, Chandrasekhar also said the platform that Meity will develop for people to report IT rule violations will be separate from the current Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC).
GAC looks into users’ complaints against social media platforms and has the power to direct the platforms to take necessary as per the merit of the grievances.
Deepfakes shot into prominence after actor Rashmika Mandanna’s face was found to have been used in an embarrassing video earlier this month. Some other celebrities, including Katrina Kaif and Kajol, were also reported to be victims of deepfake.
Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned about the threat posed by deepfakes.