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Bombay HC asks govt for details on Telegram deepfake bots that create nude photos of women

Telegram is said to be full of deepfake bots that are allegedly creating fake nudes of women without their consent.

twitter-logoShubham Verma | October 22, 2020 | Updated 15:37 IST
Source: Reuters

Highlights

  • The Bombay High Court has asked the Centre to gather more information on Telegram's deepfake bots.
  • These deepfake bots are creating fake nudes of many women without their consent.
  • Telegram has many channels that are used to circulate these images.

Telegram's repository of deepfake bots has finally caught the law's eye. The Bombay High Court has asked the government to gather information and prepare a report on the bots, powered by artificial intelligence, that create fake nudes of women using their pictures. Using a Hindustan Times report as a citation, the court has urged the government to spot if there is any "malice" in the report. These bots are reported to have targeted over 104,000 women, and the good chunk of bots users belongs to India.

The Bombay High Court made the directive to inquire about this report while hearing petitions against media trial in the case of death of Sushant Singh Rajput. Per a PTI report, the court has asked Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh to contact the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The High Court bench, including Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice GS Kulkarni, has said, "If you can gather from ministry what the print media has reported...We want you to check malice in the report. Kindly check with the ministry."

In the latest biggest controversy involving Telegram, an entire ecosystem of bots, which are powered by an advanced version of the DeepNude software, is responsible for the trade of fake nudes on user request. The findings were first reported by Sensity, a security firm that claims to have also informed the relevant law enforcement authorities on the same case. The report said these deepfake bots have targeted over 104,000 women, whose photos were picked randomly from social media and shared by users.

This deepfake ecosystem on Telegram is propagated using the AI-powered software that doctors photos of women to make them appear nude in artificially created images. These manipulated images are created on-demand. The service by these bots is free: the resulting images, however, have watermarks and partial nudity. To get a full version of these photos -- the ones with full exposure -- users are required to pay a nominal fee on a subscription basis. A fee of around Rs 100 will give access to full services for a week.

Sensity said that the significant advertising of these deepfake bots came from the Russian social media website VK. Their poll on the geographic location of about 7,200 users of these bots revealed that around 2 per cent of the users are from India and neighbouring countries. The report also mentioned that a "limited number" of the targeted women were underage as of July this year.

In India, cybercrimes related to the transmission of sexual and explicit material are tried under the Section 67A of the Information Technology Act while the Section 66E is imposed on crimes that involve sharing images of the private area of a person without his or her consent. The Indian Penal Code Section 499 and Section 354C involve criminal defamation and voyeurism, respectively, according to the Hindustan Times report that cites an analysis from 2018.

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