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ECI directs removal of controversial video amidst electoral integrity concerns

Among the directives issued, political parties are urged to refrain from circulating deep fake audios and videos
07:01 AM May 08, 2024 IST | SURINDER SINGH OBEROI
eci directs removal of controversial video amidst electoral integrity concerns
Representational Photo
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New Delhi, May 7: As Phase 3 of polling on Tuesday was continuing the Election Commission of India (ECI) issued a directive instructing the party, referred to as ‘X’ , to promptly remove the post.

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The video, which targeted Muslims and was shared during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, depicted Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) as “eggs” in a basket representing reservations.

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An animated character resembling Rahul Gandhi was depicted planting another “egg” symbolising the Muslim community into the same basket.

Following the video’s posting on Saturday, the Karnataka Congress lodged a complaint on Sunday against BJP national president J P Nadda, party IT cell head Amit Malviya, and state unit chief BY Vijayendra.

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Ramesh Babu, Chairman of the media and communications department of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, asserted in the complaint that the video not only breached the model code of conduct (MCC) but also violated the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act of 1989.

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This directive from the ECI comes amidst efforts to maintain fairness and integrity in the electoral process on the eve of the Phase 3 Lok Sabha 2024 election.

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The commission has urged political parties to responsibly utilize social media platforms during election campaigning, cautioning against the misuse of artificial intelligence (AI) tools to create deep fakes.

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Emphasising ethical conduct, the ECI has reminded parties of the legal framework regulating misinformation and impersonation, including key statutes such as the Information Technology Act of 2000, the Indian Penal Code, and provisions of the Representation of People Act of 1950 and 1951.

Among the directives issued, political parties are urged to refrain from circulating deep fake audios and videos, disseminating patently false information, or posting derogatory content, especially targeting women.

Additionally, the use of children in campaigns and depictions of violence or harm to animals are discouraged.

Parties are mandated to promptly remove objectionable content within three hours of identification, admonish the individuals responsible within their ranks, and report unlawful information and fake user accounts to respective platforms.

Persistent issues are to be escalated to the Grievance Appellate Committee under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021.

These measures aim to uphold the integrity of the electoral process and ensure a level playing field among all stakeholders.

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