In contemporary times, we frequently encounter manipulated images, videos, and audio content that are explicitly inappropriate, contributing to misinformation and intentional deceit. Such content has the potential to sow discord in society, heighten polarization, and manipulate narratives on social media with remarkable ease and widespread impact. One such phenomenon is referred to as Deepfake technology.

This blog revolves around the concept of Deepfake and the criminal use of Deepfake AI, covering offenses like identity theft, hate speech, and privacy violations. Legal consequences, as outlined in the IT Act and Penal Code, can include imprisonment and fines. Notable examples, such as deepfakes of Mark Zuckerberg and U.S. Presidents, underscore the deceptive impact. The blog also touches on the legal repercussions for privacy violations and emphasizes the responsibility of online platforms to combat misinformation, subject to legal action if they fail to comply.


Deepfake technology leverages Artificial Intelligence to seamlessly substitute one individual’s appearance and voice with another, resulting in convincing alterations to various forms of media, such as videos, audio recordings, or images. Deepfakes are created using a technique called generative adversarial networks (GANs), where two neural networks engage in a competitive process. Deepfakes can either modify pre-existing source material by replacing one person with another or generate entirely new content portraying someone in a fabricated scenario or dialogue.


Deepfake technology has the potential to facilitate criminal activities against both individuals and society at large. The ensuing criminal acts can be perpetrated through the utilization of Deepfake, as outlined below:

  • Identity Theft and Virtual Forgery: issuing deepfakes, such as utilizing deepfake technology for identity theft, generating false representations of individuals, or influencing public opinion, potentially harming an individual’s reputation, and spreading misinformation. which may result in legal consequences made under Sections 66 and 66-C of the Information Technology Act, 2000 i.e., Computer-related offences and punishment for identity theft, respectively. And Sections 420 and 468 of the Penal Code, 1860 i.e., cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property and Forgery for purpose of harming reputation, respectively.
  • Hate Speech and Online Defamation: Utilizing deepfakes for the dissemination of hate speech or defamatory material has the potential to inflict considerable damage on the reputation and overall welfare of individuals, fostering a harmful online atmosphere. Misusing deepfakes for hate speech or defamation can result in legal action under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022, of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Sections 153-A, 153-B, and 499 of the Penal Code, 1860 i.e., Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence language, etc., Imputation, assertions prejudicial to national integration and Defamation, respectively.
  • Violation of Privacy/Obscenity and Pornography: This technology can create fake images or videos, potentially harming reputations and spreading false information. Deepfakes can also be used for malicious purposes, like non-consensual content, political propaganda, or misinformation. Under the Information Technology Act, 2000, Section 66-E, Section 67, Section 67-A, and Section 67-B. address these issues. i.e., Punishment for violation of Privacy, Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form, Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit acts, etc., in electronic form, respectively. Additionally, the Penal Code, 1860’s Sections 292 and 294, i.e., Sale, etc., of obscene books, etc, and Obscene acts and songs, respectively, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, Sections 13, 14, and 15, to protect the rights of women and children in such cases i.e., use of child for pornographic purposes, punishment for using child for pornographic purposes and punishment for storage of pornographic material involving child, respectively.


In recent years, deepfake technology has become a pervasive tool for manipulating digital content, raising serious concerns about its impact on personal and public narratives. Following are the examples:

  1. Mark Zuckerberg experienced a deepfake video falsely portraying him as claiming Facebook’s control over its users, illustrating the potential for deception on social media platforms.
  2. U.S. Presidents like Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump faced deepfake challenges in 2020, with manipulated videos targeting Biden’s cognitive abilities for political influence, while others used deepfakes for disinformation or humor.
  3. In November 2023, an alarming deepfake video featuring Indian actress Rashmika Mandanna circulated widely, sparking concerns about the potential for misinformation and damage to reputations. Mandanna called for stronger regulations to combat the spread of such content.
  4. A morphed image of actress Katrina Kaif from the movie ‘Tiger 3’ recently gained online attention, distorting the original context and objectifying the actress, highlighting the misuse of deepfakes for inappropriate content.


In India, the Information Technology Act serves as a comprehensive legal framework for prosecuting deepfake-related crimes, liability determination, and penalties.

When it comes to deepfake offenses, where someone captures, publishes, or transmits another person’s image through mass media, thereby breaching their privacy, Section 66E of the IT Act of 2000 is relevant. This violation can result in a maximum punishment of three years of imprisonment or a fine of up to Rs. 2 lakhs.

Maliciously impersonating someone else using communication devices or computer resources is punishable under Section 66D of the IT Act with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.


According to Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the IT rules implemented in April 2023 mandate that online platforms have a legal responsibility to prevent the posting of misinformation by users. Additionally, they must promptly remove reported misinformation within 36 hours, whether reported by users or the government. Failure to comply with these rules can lead to legal action under Rule 7, allowing aggrieved individuals to take the platforms to court under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).


To sum up, the impact of deepfakes extends beyond privacy violations, encompassing the potential for outrage against individuals, particularly women. The absence of adequate laws exacerbates the issue, contributing to a growing zero-trust society. Addressing this threat requires the establishment of stringent regulations, potentially through updates to existing laws like the IT Act, 2000. Increased penalties for malicious use of deepfakes and enhanced legal protections for individuals are crucial aspects. Moreover, tackling the global nature of deepfake development necessitates international co-operation to effectively regulate and prevent privacy infringements.

Author – Shyamli Shukla, Associate and Aditi Arora, Assessment Intern