Safeguarding Democratic Integrity During General Elections 2024 in the Face of Deepfake Challenges

Pankit Desai, Co-Founder and CEO, Sequretek recently shed more light on how deep fake technology may influence voters in the General Elections 2024 in a conversation with Dataquest

Supriya Rai
New Update
Deep fake

General Elections 2024

The implications of deepfake technology on General Elections 2024 are significant and multifaceted, and could likely result in voter manipulation. Deepfake technology allows for the creation of highly convincing fake videos and audios, making it difficult to distinguish between real and manipulated content. This could lead to the spread of false information about candidates, parties, and political issues, potentially influencing voter opinions and decisions. Pankit Desai, Co-Founder and CEO, Sequretek recently shed more light on this in a conversation with Dataquest.


DQ: In recent years, deepfake technology has garnered attention for its potential to manipulate audio and video content, often with malicious intent. How do you foresee deepfake technology influencing the political landscape leading up to the 2024 elections in India?

Pankit Desai: This is a real and a present danger, WhatsApp, Insta Reels, YouTube Shorts and Moj, have become significant watering holes for consumption of information. About a 3rd of India consumes this content and are most susceptible to deepfake campaigns that can influence decisions amongst the tech novices.

DQ: What are the specific challenges that political parties in India might face in combating the spread of misinformation through deepfake videos and audios during the upcoming elections?


Pankit Desai: The pace at which the content gets generated and spread, will make the removing them almost impossible, there are already public statements from the security agencies about potential influences from external entities including inimical nation states trying to influence the outcomes. Deepfake technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated, making it difficult to discern between real and fake content. Classic case is the recent news about a deepfake video of a leading Bollywood celebrity a specific political belief /party, causing much chagrin to the individual and to his supporters. The fact that it was allowed to go viral, and the social media agencies not taking a stand in itself is problematic.

Deepfake technology has the potential to blur the lines between truth and fiction, raising concerns about the integrity of electoral processes. What measures do you believe should be implemented to mitigate the risks associated with deepfakes and ensure the authenticity of political discourse during the campaign period?

Transparency and Accountability: Enforce transparency requirements for political advertisements and campaign materials. Require disclosure of the origin and authenticity of digital content, including videos and images, used in political campaigns.


Verification Standards: Establish standardized protocols for verifying the authenticity of media content, especially those involving political figures. This could involve collaborating with independent fact-checking organizations and utilizing blockchain technology for tamper-proof verification.

Legal Frameworks: Enact legislation specifically targeting deepfake technology and its misuse in electoral processes. This could include criminalizing the creation and dissemination of malicious deepfakes intended to deceive voters.

DQ: In your opinion, what regulatory frameworks or legislative measures could be put in place to address the challenges posed by deepfake technology in the context of electoral campaigns? 


Pankit Desai: Civil Liability for Deepfake Misuse: Establish legal mechanisms for holding individuals and organizations accountable for the harmful effects of deepfake manipulation in electoral campaigns including ability to seek compensation for damages incurred.

Regulation of Social Media Platforms: Implement regulations requiring social media platforms to develop and enforce policies for detecting and removing deepfake content shared on their platforms.

Ethical Guidelines for Political Actors: Encourage political parties, candidates, and other stakeholders to adhere to ethical guidelines governing the use of deepfake technology in electoral campaigns including voluntary commitments to refrain from using deepfakes for deceptive purposes.


DQ: How can policymakers strike a balance between protecting freedom of expression and preventing the spread of harmful deepfake content?

Pankit Desai: Targeted Regulations: Instead of imposing blanket restrictions on all forms of deepfake content, policymakers can focus on regulating specific types of content that pose the greatest harm, such as deepfakes that are intended to deceive or manipulate viewers for malicious purposes.

Promotion of Media Literacy: Policymakers can support initiatives to improve media literacy among the public, equipping individuals with the skills to critically evaluate information and identify deepfake content.


Protection of Whistleblowers and Journalists: Policymakers should ensure that measures to combat deepfake content do not inadvertently restrict legitimate forms of expression, such as investigative journalism or whistleblowing.

DQ: Beyond the immediate concerns surrounding the 2024 elections, what long-term implications do you anticipate deepfake technology will have on the democratic process in India? How can society as a whole build resilience against the potential destabilizing effects of deepfake manipulation on public trust in institutions?

 Pankit Desai: The long-term implications of deepfake technology on the democratic process in India could be profound, as it has the potential to undermine public trust in institutions, distort political discourse, and exacerbate social divisions.


Deepfake technology could erode trust in political leaders, institutions, and the media, as it becomes increasingly difficult to discern between authentic and manipulated content.

Deepfake technology poses significant challenges to electoral integrity by enabling the spread of false information, voter suppression tactics, and foreign interference campaigns.

Deepfake technology could exacerbate polarization and the spread of disinformation by amplifying partisan narratives and creating confusion among voters.

Building resilience against the potential destabilizing effects of deepfake manipulation on public trust in institutions requires a multifaceted approach that addresses technological, educational, regulatory, and institutional challenges. By working collaboratively across sectors and investing in proactive measures to strengthen democratic resilience, societies can mitigate the risks posed by deepfake technology and safeguard the integrity of democratic processes.