Election Commission instruction on Deepfake content during elections

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has reached out to every national and state-level political party with a clear message: To take down deepfake(DF) content within three hours of being notified.

ECI also instructed political parties not to use party social media accounts for sharing deepfake videos or audio or spreading any sort of misinformation or fabricated content that might look genuine. EC also directed parties to identify persons and to issue serious warnings for these fake posts if any.


  Deepfakes “leverage powerful techniques from machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to manipulate or generate visual and audio content with a high potential to deceive”. The policy vacuum on deepfakes is a perfect archetype of this situation.

  • They are compelling, deepfake videos can be used to spread misinformation and propaganda. They seriously compromise the public’s ability to distinguish between fact and fiction.
  • Second, there is a history of using DF to portray someone in a compromising and embarrassing position. For example, there is no shortage of deepfake pornographic material featuring celebrities. Such pictures and videos are not only an invasion of the privacy of the people allegedly in those videos but also harassment.
  • Third, deepfakes have been used for financial fraud. Most recently, scammers used AI-powered software to trick the CEO of a UK energy.
  • It can become a deadly tool in the hands of India’s unfriendly neighbors and non-state actors to create tension in the country.
  • Deepfakes can be used to influence elections. Recently, Taiwan’s cabinet approved amendments to election laws to penalize the sharing of deepfake videos or images.

To deal with the malicious use of DF, currently, in India, very few provisions under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Information Technology Act, 2000 can potentially be invoked.    

              Section 500 of the IPC provides for punishment for defamation. Sections 67 and 67A of the Information Technology Act explicitly punish sexually explicit material.

               Representation of the People Act, 1951 contains provisions prohibiting the creation or distribution of false or misleading information about candidates or political parties during the election period.

                       The Election Commission of India has set rules that require registered political parties and candidates to obtain pre-approval for all political advertisements on electronic media, including TV and social media sites, to help ensure their accuracy and fairness. it occurs. However, these regulations do not address the potential threats posed by deepfake content.

                          There is often a lag between new technologies and the enactment of laws to address the issues and challenges posed by them. The legal framework related to AI in India is insufficient to adequately address the various issues that may arise due to AI algorithms.

                              The central government should bring separate legislation to regulate the nefarious use of DF and the wider subject of AI. Legislation should not hinder innovation in AI, but it should recognize that deepfake technology can be used for criminal acts and should provide provisions to address the use of deepfakes in these cases. The proposed Digital India Bill may also address this issue.


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