Deepfakes are a “very problematic issue” for conducting free and fair elections in a large and connected country such as India, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Union minister for electronics and information technology, told PTI on Saturday.

The minister’s comments come days after the Centre issued an advisory to all social media platforms to comply with the Information Technology Rules amid “growing concerns around misinformation powered by AI-deepfakes”.

Chandrasekhar’s remarks came months ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Deepfake technology uses artificial intelligence software to manipulate audio and video with the help of artificial intelligence software to depict people saying or doing things that they never said or did. The content is made to appear as realistic as possible and is usually used with malicious intent.

Chandrasekhar also told PTI that social media platforms operating in the country will be monitored over the next seven to fifteen days for “remedial measures” that they have been asked to put in place to combat the proliferation of deepfakes. “…if they still have not made a move, then we will basically amend the IT rules and notify amended IT rules to be as prescriptive as the advisories are,” the minister said.

The Centre’s advisory on Tuesday said: “Content not permitted under the IT Rules, in particular those listed under Rule 3(1)(b) must be clearly communicated to the users in clear and precise language including through its terms of service and user agreements”.

Rule 3(1)(b) mandates social media platforms to communicate their rules, regulations, privacy policy and user agreements in the user’s preferred language. Rule 3(1)(b)(v) explicitly prohibits the dissemination of misinformation.

Chandrasekhar also commented on the simmering tension between the Union government and social media companies based outside India.

“I think it is clear that some of the platforms that are much more India-centric have a much more deeper respect for Indian law than somebody sitting in [an] outside jurisdiction who is still living this ‘twilight zone’ about which law they should follow,” he said.

In a press release about the Centre’s advisory to social media companies last week, Chandrasekhar had said, “Deepfake, which is misinformation powered by AI, further amplifies the threat to safety and trust of our Digital Nagriks [digital citizens]”.

Also read: Should India be worried about malicious AI tools influencing politics?