Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Tuesday met social media platforms to review progress made by them in tackling misinformation and deepfakes, and asserted that advisories will be issued in the next two days to ensure 100 per cent compliance by platforms.
New, amended IT Rules to further ensure compliance of platforms, and the safety and trust of online users are actively under consideration, Chandrasekhar said in a post on X.
‘Held the 2nd #DigitalIndiaDialogues on Misinformation and #Deepfakes with intermediaries today, to review the progress made since the Nov 24 meeting. Many platforms are responding to the decisions taken last month and advisories on ensuring 100 per cent compliance will be issued in the next 2 days,’ Chandrasekhar, who is Minister of State for IT and Electronics, said in the post.
Meanwhile, sources said that the government has talked tough with the digital platforms at Tuesday’s meeting.
Platforms have been clearly told that 11 ‘user harms’ or ‘illegalities’ flagged under IT Rules are also mapped to equivalent provisions in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and hence criminal consequences can follow even under the current laws.
Sources said that some platforms have complied, and those ‘slow’ in doing so have been given additional time.
The government, in Tuesday’s meeting, has made it amply clear that it will continue with its ‘zero tolerance approach’ on user harm arising from misinformation and deepfakes.
According to sources, many platforms have shown a clear understanding of what the right thing to do is, and are adapting quickly, but some platforms have shown ‘lethargy’.
A final meeting with platforms to take stock of the issue will take place in seven days, the source said.
At present, the IT Rules and Act require platforms to tackle harm, and also make sure that users on the platforms are well aware of what is illegal and what is not. The onus of ensuing this rests squarely on the platforms.
During Tuesday’s meeting, platforms were clearly told that there are criminal consequences to such user harms, mapped even under existing laws.
Citing a case in point, sources said a section under Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) allows prosecution for deepfakes under ‘forgery’.
Similarly, other forms of harm have equivalent provisions under the IPC.
“No platform used to doing nothing about harm would like to be told that we are going to take a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to harm… Ones that are slower (to act), we have given them some more time but we have certainly not given them any feeling that we are going to relax the government’s approach in making the internet safe and trusted for all Indians,” the source said.
The government will review in seven days whether advisories will suffice or if new or amended rules will need to be issued.
“Whether we need to issue only advisories or issue new amended rules is something we will review in seven days from today. And if necessary, we will follow it up with a much tighter set of rules that focus on enforcement and issue of creating deterrence for those who abuse the platforms,” sources said.