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HometechnologygadgetsGovt may force WhatsApp to remove 'end-to-end encryption': What this means for...

Govt may force WhatsApp to remove 'end-to-end encryption': What this means for users

With assembly polls of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram scheduled for November and the general election due in May 2024, political parties are gearing up for high-pitched battles not just on the ground (constituencies) but also on social media platforms.

In a bid to gain a maximum number of voters’ attention, political parties are luring them with several welfare schemes, and also spread misinformation of potential opponents through messenger apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and other online platforms.

In an age of generative Artificial Intelligence (gen AI) and deepfake tech, it is easy to create fake content and circulate it to millions of people in a short time.

In a bid to curb such unethical practices, the Indian government is mulling enforcement of Section 4 (2) of the Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021 on the popular messenger app WhatsApp to disclose the ID of the person, who circulates the fake content, reported The Indian Express, citing government official.

Rule 4(2) of the new IT Rules, 2021

What does this mean for messenger app users in India

WhatsApp and other popular messenger service providers offer end-to-end encryption security feature that ensures complete privacy for individual users. The communication (messages and calls) between two people can not be intercepted either by the government or WhatsApp.

However, if WhatsApp or others have to comply with the government/court order, to reveal the culprit who first circulated the fake video, they have to withdraw the end-to-end encryption feature.

As of now, there is no middle ground to guarantee users’ privacy and also be able to trace and pinpoint the bad actors.

So, what is the immediate solution? An urgent need to have regulation on Gen AI and Deepfake tech

Since the beginning of 2023, Google, Microsoft, OpenAI, Meta, and others have introduced advanced generative Artificial Intelligence (gen AI) tech of their own with amazing capabilities. It is being hailed as the next big revolution in technology and would significantly reduce the workload.

Gen AI tech: Pros

Gen AI can help software programmers write code and even debug the test program in a few seconds. It can even help authors facing writer’s block to get creative leads to start off the page. And, regular people can ask gen AI-powered search engine or apps to plan their vacation, find most affordable flights.

Children can even seek help from gen AI assistants to write then essay on any topic for a school home work.

And, corporate employees, who join late to the meeting or miss one, can make good use of gen AI assistan to get short summaries or key takeaways of that particular office meeting.

With the latest advancements, Google Bard and ChatGPT-powered applications can now even generate images with just text descriptions. There are apps that use deepfake tech to swap images of people’s face in video and make it look authentic.

Gen AI Tech: Cons

While there are several use cases for gen AI and deepfake tech to let people lose their creativity and even improve productivity at work, as noted earlier, there are also issues of misuse by criminals.

In recent times, there are increased cases of misuse by political parties and hired private espionage agencies creating fake videos of opponents and activists. Innocent people’s faces are computationally imposed on the faces of actors in porn videos. Here, their main intention is character assassination of the targeted person.

Here in Karnataka, several MLAs and MPs have brought injunction orders from the high court to bar media houses from airing videos and images, understood to be manipulated with deep fake tech.

The Immediate Solution: Make Digital Watermark on AI-generated Content Mandatory

Recently, Google’s DeepMind division came up with an amazing watermark tool SynthID.

With SynthID, AI-generated images get a watermark and ensure anybody who comes across the artificially generated images, is able to differentiate them.

SynthID comes with several nuanced features that ensure AI-generated images created for genuine creative purposes are aesthetically and visually good and do not have any unsightly marks. And, yet people will be able to identify that it is a computer-generated photo.

Also, even if the bad actors use any advanced tech to add several more layers of filters from any applications onto AI-generated multimedia content, he/she will still not be able to avoid detection, thanks the SynthID digital watermark.

While government agencies and social media platforms sort out the issues of tracing the fake content spreader, they should not waste any more time in bringing regulations to enforce all gen AI solution providers to offer digital watermarks with content. So, security authorities and people be able to differentiate between fake and genuine multimedia content.

Get the latest news on new launches, gadget reviews, apps, cybersecurity, and more on personal technology only on DH Tech.

(Published 16 October 2023, 07:00 IST)

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