India May Use AI to Remove Objectionable Online Content

April 7, 2021

India’s Information Technology Act, 2000 provides for the removal of certain unlawful content online, like child pornography, private images of others, or false information. Of course, it is difficult to impossible to keep up with identifying and removing such content using just human moderators. Now we learn from the Orissa Post that the “Govt Mulls Using AI to Tackle Social Media Misuse.” The write-up states:

“This step was proposed after the government witnessed widespread public disorder because of the spread of rumours in mob lynching cases. The Ministry of Home Affairs has taken up the matter and is exploring ways to implement it. On the rise in sharing of fake news over social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad had said in Lok Sabha that ‘With a borderless cyberspace coupled with he possibility of instant communication and anonymity, the potential for misuse of cyberspace and social media platforms for criminal activities is a global issue.’ Prasad explained that cyberspace is a complex environment of people, software, hardware and services on the internet. He said he is aware of the spread of misinformation. The Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 has provisions for removal of objectionable content. Social media platforms are intermediaries as defined in the Act. Section 79 of the Act provides that intermediaries are required to disable/remove unlawful content on being notified by the appropriate government or its agency.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued several advisories related to real-world consequences of online content since the Act passed, including one on the protection of cows, one on the prevention of cybercrime, and one on lynch mobs spurred on by false rumors of child kidnappings. The central government hopes the use of AI will help speed the removal of objectionable content and reduce its impact on its citizens. And cows.

Cynthia Murrell, April 7, 2021

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