India will come up with new regulations to tackle deepfakes, the Union IT Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Thursday.

The mechanism could include a new law, amendment of existing laws, or a set of fresh rules. There would be penal clauses including financial implications and legal recourse.

Typically deepfakes refer to synthetic media which are created through digital manipulation of facial features of one person is replaced with another.

Focus would be on “four pillars”, which include detection of deepfakes, prevention on spread of such content, reporting of these including ramping up existing mechanism and compliance by social media platforms even when such a concern is being raised by an individual user and creation of awareness across social media, government and private organisational levels,

“Deepfakes are the new threat of democracy and weakens trust in society. We will start drafting regulations today onwards, and within a short time, perhaps next few weeks, we will have a new set of regulations….. this could be in the form of amending existing framework or bringing new rules, or new law,” Vaishnaw said while addressing the media post a meeting with industry stake-holders, social media platforms, lobby groups and academicians.

Onus would be on platforms hosting such content to mark out differences between “synthetic content” and an originial; those uploading or creating such content; among others.

India’s concern over deepfakes comes amidst recent instances of actors and politicians finding their morphed videos being circulated across social media platforms. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged concerns on deepfakes pointing out that the use of AI for creating such content was “problematic”.

“Over the next 10 days we will come up with actionable items on the four pillars - detection, prevention, reporting and awareness (around deep fakes),” Vaishnaw added.

The IT Ministry will again be meeting social media platforms on the ssue “in first week of December”.

Pointing out that deepfakes are “not free speech”, Vaishnaw said, there needs to be some “labelling or watermarking” so that clear identification be made across content.

Provisions relating to penal action will be discussed in the coming meetings while the draft rules, once ready, will also be put out for public discussion and suggestions.

The Government, he said, was not averse to the idea of having its own AI-enabled tools towards detection ans prevention of circulation of deepfakes.

“Social media companies acknowledged that the problem of deepfakes is not restricted to India. But is a global issue. They agreed that there needs to be ways to tackle this problem,” Vaishnaw said.