Are We Ready for the Deepfake Era in India

Bhavik Sarkhedi
4 min readApr 4, 2024

Are We Ready for the Deepfake Era in India

Elections are near, and India, with 760 million internet users, faces a deepfake era. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu used AI to resurrect M Karunanidhi.

Arun Reddy of Congress sees AI’s potential; India has more than 50% internet penetration, second only to China. Divyendra Singh Jadoun’s AI startup faced unethical requests, denying over 50 in November elections. Deepfake videos targeting politicians are rampant; police tackle them using defamation laws.

Election Commission of India (ECI) faces challenges in addressing deepfakes; Bharat Rashtra Samithi warned against deepfakes in Telangana elections. Former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi urges ECI to act promptly. The Indian government pushes tech giants to moderate deepfakes, raising questions on effectiveness.

Meta partners with MCA to launch a WhatsApp helpline, targeting AI-generated misinformation in India. The initiative focuses on detection, prevention, reporting, and awareness, bolstering efforts to combat deepfakes.

YouTube enables removal requests for AI-generated content, but experts doubt its efficacy. Internet Freedom Foundation calls for refraining from deepfake use in elections, but adoption remains uncertain.

During a discussion with Bill Gates, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized India’s technological advancements, particularly in digital empowerment, women’s inclusion, and AI development. Modi highlighted AI integration across governance, citing its use in the 2023 G20 Summit and transformative impact in sectors like health and education. He underscored the need to address AI challenges, including deepfake technology, proposing comprehensive training, watermarking AI-generated content, and establishing a legal framework for regulation.”

Deepfake technology has emerged as a significant concern in India, with a 550% increase in online deepfake videos reported in the 2023 State of Deepfakes report, totaling around 95,820.

This surge places India as the sixth most vulnerable country to this evolving threat, raising serious issues surrounding personal privacy, misinformation, and authenticity.

Psychologically, the use of deepfakes can cause distress and harm, particularly when employed for character assassination or harassment, leading to lasting effects on mental well-being and public perception.

On the technological front, efforts to combat deepfakes are progressing, with AI-driven detection systems being developed to analyze patterns and anomalies in videos, providing a crucial tool in identifying forged content that might elude human observation.

Among the concerning applications of deepfake technology is its use in creating non-consensual pornography, which has become increasingly prevalent in India.

High-profile individuals such as Rashmika Mandanna and Alia Bhatt have fallen victim to deepfake manipulation, with their faces superimposed onto explicit material. This misuse underscores the invasion of privacy and the potential for harm, prompting nationwide discussions about the ethical implications of this technology.

The deepfake threat extends beyond non-consensual pornography, impacting various public figures across different contexts.

For instance, a deepfake video of Infosys founder N. R. Narayana Murthy discussing quantum computing software benefits circulated on Facebook, fabricated from an original business event video.

Similarly, actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas was targeted in a viral deepfake falsely depicting her endorsing brands and providing investment advice. Another incident involved an altered image of actress Katrina Kaif from her upcoming movie ‘Tiger 3,’ where her attire was digitally manipulated. Additionally, a deepfake video featuring Kajol surfaced, inaccurately depicting influencer Rosie Breen as Kajol in changing clothes.

While the Indian government has issued advisories to social media platforms to take strict action against deepfake content, experts highlight the absence of specific laws addressing deepfakes and AI-related crimes in India. Although provisions under existing legislations like the IT Act offer some recourse, dedicated laws may be necessary to effectively combat the deepfake menace.

Maintaining Personal Privacy in the Deepfake Era

In navigating the deepfake era, maintaining personal privacy requires digital savviness. Cyber law expert Pavan Duggal stresses the importance of digital literacy, urging individuals to critically evaluate online content. While the government’s advisories to social media platforms are a step forward, individuals must also take proactive measures, such as understanding privacy settings, exercising caution in sharing personal information, and staying abreast of security measures.

Identifying Deepfakes and Protecting Digital Identities

Identifying deepfakes necessitates a blend of technological awareness and critical thinking. While AI advancements pose challenges to detection, anomalies in video or audio quality, unnatural facial movements, and mismatched lip-syncing are potential indicators, according to Anushka Jain, a research associate at Digital Futures Lab.

Moreover, safeguarding digital identities involves prudent sharing of personal data, utilizing strong passwords, and staying vigilant against evolving security threats.

Addressing Legal and Societal Challenges

One significant challenge in combating deepfakes in India lies in tracing the originators of such content, compounded by service providers’ reluctance to disclose information due to legal concerns.

Consequently, there is a growing imperative for India to adopt more effective law enforcement tools and approaches to keep pace with technological advancements. Beyond legal and regulatory hurdles, deepfakes raise broader societal concerns, threatening social trust and democratic processes, particularly in the context of elections.

The Future of Deepfake Technology and Mitigating Risks

While deepfake technology offers promise in entertainment and education, its misuse poses substantial risks.

Collaborative efforts involving open communication and proactive strategies are essential, as highlighted by experts like Michaela Browning of Google Asia Pacific. The Indian government’s initiatives to develop a legislative framework for AI and deepfakes signify a positive step. However, India must strengthen its legal framework, enhance technological capabilities, and raise public awareness to effectively address the deepfake challenge.

In conclusion, the deepfake era presents significant challenges to India’s societal fabric, individual privacy, and democratic processes.

Ready to tackle the deepfake era in India? Stay informed, stay vigilant, and take action against deceptive technology. Will you join the movement to build a secure online environment based on authenticity and trust?

Achieving a balance between innovation and ethical considerations, bolstered by robust regulatory measures and heightened public awareness, is essential in navigating this evolving landscape. Are We Ready for the Deepfake Era in India?

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Bhavik Sarkhedi

2000+ Published Articles | Author of 8 Non Best Selling Books | Writer to 35+ Reputed Magazines | Connect with me at https://bhaviksarkhedi.com