Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become popular in this 21st century as several starting from celebrities to common people are using its technology to create photographs of themselves turning into other characters.
AI refers to an emerging technology that gives machines the ability to have human intelligence processes like learning, thinking, decision-making and problem-solving.
This technology provides a wide array of possibilities to do the unthinkable tasks by just giving the right command and getting the desired results, however, unfortunately like every other thing this too has negative impacts as cybercriminals find ways to misuse everything available online.
As AI technology makes it easy to generate or edit photographs into other characters by changing the clothes in the images or worse, by removing them, several girls, including famous personalities, are now unsafe at the hands of these cybercriminals as well as individuals who are unaware that they are tarnishing someone’s image by creating such images. These morphed photos by AI technology are popularly referred to as deepfakes which means manipulation of facial appearance through deep generative methods.
Recently, this matter has raised concerns among the public, especially girls, as reports have emerged that sextortionists have started to gather photographs of them from their social media handles to create morphed photos and sell them on online platforms such as Discord, Reddit and so on. What is worse is that many of them may be unaware if their photographs are being misused by friends, acquaintances, relatives and others.
Last month, a girl who fell prey to these criminals told Pratidin Time Digital of how her school classmate gathered photographs from her social media account and by using AI, he created nude photos and was selling them on Discord in exchange for money. This was notably the first incident that came to light as she was made aware by a friend about her photos being misused by some person.
After becoming aware of the matter, she tried to uncover who the real culprit was trying to sell her morphed photographs and entered the Discord channel using a fake name. The moment she was allowed in the channel, it was found that young boys were trying to sell fake nude photos of their sisters and mothers who might be unaware of how their sons and brothers are slowly turning into cybercriminals.
This incident raised alarms in the state as girls started to become alert of whether their photos were being misused like that of the victim.
After almost two months the incident came to light, several people on social media tried to use AI technology to add different sets of clothes to the photograph of a famous personality from Assam, however, the matter took a drastic turn when one individual, Anupal Dutta, developed a nude photo of her and posted on social media.
Assam Police immediately responded to the matter after netizens tagged them demanding action against the accused. Director General of Assam Police (DGP) GP Singh informed that the person was detained and the photograph was taken down immediately after the detention. He urged citizens not to repost the screenshots of it deferring the dignity of a woman.
Women have mostly been a soft target for the criminals owing to the misogynistic mindset that several men still have within themselves giving them the audacity to tarnish their image or character.
It seems that this AI technology, though it has made the lives of a few people easy, has become a threat to the lives of women, especially those who are yet not aware of deepfakes and the existence of such technology.
With several people raising their voices against these kinds of cybercrimes, Assam Police assured that relevant sections of the Information Technology Act (IT-Act) and Indian Penal Code (IPC) depending on the severity of the crime will be imposed against the perpetrators if found guilty.
Amid the questions looming over what to do when one finds out about their photos being misused, a source in the police department informed that if someone finds that their photos are being morphed by someone then they can themselves get it removed from all the online platforms keeping their identities protected.
She said, “Several people might not be aware but there is one way that victims can get their morphed photos removed from the internet without revealing their identities. The victims will have to visit the site- https://stopncii.org/ and upload their real and edited photos after which the morphed photos will be removed from all the online platforms.”
At present, Assam has two Cyber Police Stations- Assam CID and Guwahati City Police- and two Cyber Police Outposts in Dibrugarh and Silchar. The jurisdiction of the cyber police station in CID is all over Assam except Guwahati City. The victims falling prey to such kinds of crimes can approach the cyber police stations or outposts with their complaints following which proper investigation will be launched to find the accused, the source informed.
These criminals usually gather photos from social media to which the police official stated how unsafe it is to make our photos public on social media. She said, “Several people make their photos public on social media which should be avoided for their safety. They should share photographs with their friends to maintain their privacy. It is different in the matters of celebrities or public figures because they do it for their followers and fans, however, everyone is not a public figure. I would suggest they maintain their privacy so that their photos are not misused.”
Everything that is introduced in this world will have advantages and disadvantages so people need to have the mindset that new things are subjected to be misused by those with criminal minds. No matter how much this stuff may facilitate our daily lives, it is on us to keep our privacy maintained.