In response to a viral deepfake video purportedly featuring actor Rashmika Mandanna, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued a stern reminder to social media platforms, emphasizing the legal implications of such deceptive content and the potential penalties for its creation and dissemination.
This development comes on the heels of growing concerns surrounding the use of Artificial Intelligence to propagate disinformation through deepfake technology. The government has cited Section 66D of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which pertains to “punishment for cheating by personation by using a computer resource.” According to this section, individuals found guilty of cheating by impersonation through any communication device or computer resource could face imprisonment for up to three years and a fine of up to one lakh rupees.
The government’s advisory follows the shocking revelation of a viral video supposedly showing Rashmika Mandanna entering an elevator. Subsequently, it was uncovered that the video was manipulated using deepfake technology and featured British-Indian influencer Zara Patel instead. This incident has raised serious concerns about the consequences of such manipulation, especially for public figures whose images are tampered with using this technology. Rashmika Mandanna expressed her distress over the deepfake video, describing it as “extremely scary” and emphasizing the misuse of technology that puts individuals at risk.
Prominent voices in the film industry, including legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan, have raised alarms about this issue and called for legal action to address the growing problem of deepfake content.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and trust of Indian citizens in the digital space. He highlighted the importance of compliance with the IT rules enacted in April 2023, which require platforms to swiftly remove reported misinformation within 36 hours. Non-compliance can lead to legal action under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code. Deepfakes, being a particularly insidious and harmful form of misinformation, also demand the attention of these platforms.
The government’s message underscores the need for increased vigilance and action against the proliferation of deepfake content in the digital landscape.