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Judiciary

Delhi HC directs NGO to approach Election Commission over deepfakes’ use amidst Lok Sabha elections

By Shreya Agarwal      06 May, 2024 11:30 AM      0 Comments
Delhi HC directs NGO to approach Election Commission over deepfakes use amidst Lok Sabha elections

NEW DELHI: Refusing to intervene in the matter, the Delhi High Court has directed an NGO seeking action against deepfake videos being circulated amidst the ongoing Lok Sabha elections to approach the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Urging the petitioner NGO to “trust the constitutional body”, a bench led by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan said that the NGO can make a comprehensive representation to the ECI in this regard.

It also directed the ECI to decide the matter by Monday.

Refusing to interfere in the matter, the Court opined that it would not be proper for for it to interfere in the ECI’s jurisdiction.

“Let ECI handle it. Not proper for the court to interfere at this juncture at all,” it held on the plea raising concern over recent deepfakes of famous personalities - like BJP leader Amit Shah, INC leader Rahul Gandhi, Bollywood actors Amir Khan and Ranveer Singh - being used to influence the public for the Lok Sabha polls.

The plea urged that the time duration (upto 24 hours) taken for the deepfakes to be taken down in the present system are excessive and unable to control damage.

The ECI’s counsel on the other hand, informed Court that FIRs have already been registered for the celebrity deepfakes mentioned in the plea. The concerned accounts have also been withheld.

Senior Advocate Jayant Mehta, however, still pressed that media intermediaries and digital platforms need to act more promptly on ECI’s complaints against social media handles, and that the ECI needs to also pass due directions to avoid content replication and further disemination.

However, the Court said, “You haven’t even made a complaint to them. Give these examples to ECI. We can only recommend ECI to examine this aspect.

What else can we do? At this point, the court cannot pass a direction, we are in the midst of elections.”

It also expressed its reservations regarding the technical difficulty with respect to stopping the uploading itself of deep fake videos, noting that the maximum that can be done is disabling of the concerned handle.

The bench was also of the opinion that such incidents used to happen earlier as well during elections, involving rumours being published and circulated about candidates - albeit the methodologies differ now.

Pointing out that rules governing the situation are already in place, it refused to intervene in the matter and disposed of the plea.

“This is what the Parliament has been made for, we haven’t made. We are bound by the law. If rules are framed, what do we do?” it said.

 

 



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