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Delhi HC seeks Centre’s reply to Rajat Sharma’s plea against deepfake

INDDelhi HC seeks Centre’s reply to Rajat Sharma’s plea against deepfake

A view of Delhi High Court.

The Delhi High Court on May 8 asked the Centre to respond to a petition by veteran journalist Rajat Sharma against the non-regulation of deepfake technology in the country.

The high court said it was a “major problem” and sought to know from the central government if it was willing to act on the issue. “Political parties are complaining about this as well,” the court said.

In the petition, Mr. Sharma, the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Independent News Service Private Limited (INDIA TV), said that the proliferation of deepfake technology poses a significant threat to various aspects of society, including misinformation and disinformation campaigns, and undermines the integrity of public discourse and the democratic process.

His plea sought directions to block public access to applications and software enabling creation of such content.

“The absence of adequate regulation and safeguards against the misuse of deepfake technology poses a grave risk to the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India, including the right to freedom of expression, the right to privacy, and the right to a fair trial,” his petition said.

The plea said it is imperative for the government to establish regulatory frameworks to define and classify deepfakes and AI-generated content and prohibit the creation, distribution and dissemination of deepfakes for malicious purposes.

“The failure of the government to regulate and provide effective redressal to victims of deepfakes and AI-generated content effectively not only undermines the rights and safety of its citizens but also jeopardizes the integrity of democratic institutions and societal trust,” it said.

The plea said the Centre had made a statement of its intent to formulate regulation for dealing with deepfakes and synthetic content in November 2023, but nothing of the sort has seen the light of the day so far.

The petition also stated that certain unscrupulous people were maintaining social media accounts and uploading fake videos featuring Mr Sharma’s image and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-generated voice to sell or endorse various products such as purported medication for diabetes and fat loss.

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