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Police in India Investigate Deepfake Videos as Election Gets Heated

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Police in India Investigate Deepfake Videos

As campaigning heated up in India’s election, deepfake videos involving two top advisers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have sparked police investigations and the arrest of some staffers from his opponent Congress party.

In what has been dubbed India’s first AI election, Modi said last week that artificial voices were being used to allegedly show leaders making “statements that we have never even thought of,” calling it a conspiracy “to create tension in society.”

Indian police, who are already investigating the spread of fake videos featuring Bollywood actors criticizing Modi, are now looking into a doctored online clip in which federal home minister Amit Shah says the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party will end certain social guarantees for minorities, a sensitive issue for millions of voters.

Shah responded to X by uploading both his “original” and the altered “fake” speech and claiming — without offering any evidence — that the main opposition Congress was behind the video it prepared to deceive the people. The minister stated: “Directions have been issued to the police to address this issue.”

Nine arrested in India

According to police comments, Indian police arrested at least nine persons last week, including six members of Congress’ social media teams, in the states of Assam, Gujarat, Telangana, and New Delhi for disseminating the phony film.

Five Congress members were released on bail, but the most high-profile arrest by New Delhi police’s cybercrime squad occurred on Friday, when they nabbed Arun Reddy, a Congress national social media coordinator, for uploading the video. In New Delhi, Shah’s government has direct control over the police. Reddy has been taken into custody for three days.

Congress staffers have protested the detention, with many posting on X with the hashtag #ReleaseArunReddy. Manickam Tagore, a Congress member, claimed the detention was an example of “authoritarian abuse of power by the regime.”

Supriya Shrinate, Congress’ head of social media, did not respond to texts or an email requesting comment. The Indian election, which will take place between April 19 and June 1, will be the world’s largest democratic event.

With almost a billion voters and over 800 million internet users, combating the spread of misinformation is a high-stakes task. It entails round-the-clock monitoring by police and election officials, who frequently issue takedown orders to Facebook and X when investigations begin.

Ai Generated Deepfake Videos

More than 500 workers in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, monitor internet content, flagging contentious messages and liaising with social media firms to remove them as needed, police chief Prashant Kumar told Reuters on Saturday.

Another deepfake video that went viral last week depicted Yogi Adityanath, the state’s chief minister, condemning Modi for not doing enough to help the relatives of those killed in a 2019 militant attack.

Though fact-checkers believed the video was made using different bits of an original tape, state police described it as a “AI generated, deepfake”.

On May 2, state police detained Shyam Gupta, who had published the phony video post on X the day before, with over 3,000 views and 11 likes.

The police have charged Gupta with forgery and inciting enmity under Indian law, which carries a maximum seven-year prison sentence if convicted. Reuters was unable to approach him since he is now serving a 14-day detention sentence.
“This person is not a technology expert. “If he had been tech savvy, we would not have been able to arrest him so quickly,” stated Police Officer Kumar.

Source: Reuters

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