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Business News/ Politics / News/  'Be cautious,' PM Modi's warning to ministers on dangers of deepfakes ahead of Lok Sabha polls 2024
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'Be cautious,' PM Modi's warning to ministers on dangers of deepfakes ahead of Lok Sabha polls 2024

Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the risks posed by AI-generated audio, images, and videos of candidates that have the potential to distort reality in the run up to 2024 Lok Sabha polls

PM Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of his Council of Ministers in New Delhi on March 3.Premium
PM Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of his Council of Ministers in New Delhi on March 3.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi advised his ministers to avoid controversies and be cautious of deepfakes ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2024. 

The Prime Minister issued the fresh warning during his nearly hour-long address while chairing the last formal meeting of his Council of Ministers in New Delhi on March 3.

"Please be mindful before making any statements. Nowadays, there is a trend of deepfake in which voice, etc can be altered, be cautious of this", NDTV quoted a source attributing to the Prime Minister as saying.

The meeting was convened to brainstorm on the vision document 'Viksit Bharat 2047'  ahead of the April-May Lok Sabha Elections. It was held a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its first list of 195 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha 2024 polls. PM Modi will again contest from Varanasi, UP, while Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, has been fielded from Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

By deepfakes, the prime minister, referred to the Artificial Intelligence-generated audio, images and videos of candidates that have the potential to distort reality in the run up to 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Also Read: What is Viksit Bharat 2047, PM Modi's plan ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2024? 5 things to know

The PM had issued similar warnings earlier as well. In December last year, he highlighted the issue of deepfakes on social media and said AI-generated videos and pictures look real. Earlier in November, PM Modi cited an example of a deepfake video that showed him doing the garba. Later, PM’s doppelganger said it was not a deep fake, but it was him in the viral garba clip.

There is a concern that the upcoming Lok Sabha elections could witness a barrage of videos and audio clips of political leaders making controversial comments or disparaging remarks about their opponents. Experts said the misleading content can be used to spin a false narrative. 

These computer-generated fake videos have already started targeting Indian politicians. In 2023 Madhya Pradesh elections, two doctored video clips of superstar Amitabh Bachchan on ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ calling the then Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan a liar, and portraying Congress party CM hopeful Kamal Nath in a positive light, had also surfaced ahead of the polls.

In November,  the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) lodged a complaint with the Election Commission (EC) against the Congress, alleging that the party used 'deepfake' technology to create fabricated content, targeting party President K Chandrasekhar Rao and other prominent party leaders and candidates contesting in the 2023 Assembly elections in Telangana.

The country’s first tryst with AI interference in polls was during the 2020 Delhi Assembly elections. A deepfake video of BJP MP Manoj Tiwari criticising Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s policies in different languages hit the internet. Tiwari is the BJP candidate from North East Delhi in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

These unregulated deepfakes pose a global challenge by blurring the line between real and fake.  In January, US law enforcement agencies said they were investigating reports of an apparent robocall that used AI to mimic President Joe Biden’s voice and discourage voters in the state from coming to the polls during primary elections in New Hampshire. The US Presidential elections are also scheduled for 2024.

AI was used extensively in last year's Presidential Elections in Argentina, eventually won by Javier Milei, according to a New York Times report. “AI’s prominent role in Argentina’s campaign and the political debate it has set off underscore the technology’s growing prevalence and show that, with its expanding power and falling cost, it is now likely to be a factor in many democratic elections around the globe," the report titled “Is Argentina the First AI Election?" read.

Indian elections are vulnerable to AI misuse because of its cheap internet and huge penetration. The number of online deepfake videos has seen a 550 per cent spike to 95,820 since 2019, according to a 2023 State of Deepfakes report from the United States-based Home Security Heroes. India is the sixth most vulnerable country, according to the report.

The government is also cautious. In December 2023, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) issued an advisory to all intermediaries to comply with the existing IT rules. “The directive specifically targets the growing concerns around misinformation powered by AI – Deepfakes," the government had said.

The government is also planning to bring a law to regulate AI misuse. Last month, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the government will come out with a draft regulatory framework for AI by June-July.

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Published: 04 Mar 2024, 09:02 AM IST
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