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Deepfakes & Cybercrime!

Deep fakes could be simply tools to create content – from satirical virtual content to helping create political propaganda or even complete a movie with an actor, who passed away before shooting for the film was completed. In similar fashion, deep fakes may also be used for fabricating false videos to spread fake news. Such technology may be adapted to create pornography or for committing offences such as revenge porn, malicious hoaxes, financial frauds, or issue hate speeches or defame persons, or instigate acts to harass, intimidate, demean, undermine, destabilise, incite violence or cause alarm. Substantial harm may be caused before the truth about such fake content is revealed and before that even lives may be lost. 

The recent incident of using deep fake technology to create a fake video just before the Delhi elections is just one case in point of the impact of this easily accessible technology. Even apps on some smart phones provide this technology for creating deep fakes.

Deepfake technology uses artificial intelligence to impose an image or a video upon an existing picture or video so as to create a new fake likeness. This tool uses machine learning and manipulates audio and visual data to create a product which can easily deceive others. Deepfakes may not be easy to detect to the naked eye and can be therefore easily misused.

Some giveaways in the videos, which may help in detecting deep fakes are lighting discolorations, blurriness, absence of sync in audio and video to name a few .

Depending on the purpose for which it is used criminal prosecutions against deep fakes may be initiated. Early usage of deep fakes were for creating pornographic content by superimposing faces of celebrities onto existing content. In such instances Criminal prosecution under Section 465 IPC may be invoked. For disseminating such fake content online, Section 67 and 67A Information Technology Act, 2000 (as amended) (“IT Act”) may be invoked. Similarly law may be called into assistance against other misuse including in election frauds. However, as was demonstrated in 2018 political satire is not a punishable offence. Due care ought to be taken not just in the use of this very powerful technology but also the law to punish transgressions.  

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