Alphabet Inc unit Google, Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and other tech businesses will have to take certain measures to counter deepfakes and fake accounts on their platforms or will have to risk hefty penalties under an updated European Union code of practice, according to an updated EU document.
As part of its crackdown on fake news, the European Commission is expected to publish an updated code of practice on disinformation later this week.
The EU introduced a voluntary code practice in 2018 which will now become a co-regulation scheme, with responsibility shared between the supervisory body and signatories to the code.
The new code practice will give examples of potentially manipulative behaviour, including deepfakes and fake accounts, which signatories to the code will need to counter.
The new EU document in a statement also specified that relevant signatories would be required to adopt, reinforce and implement clear policies regarding impermissible manipulative behaviours and practices on their platforms, that is based on the latest evidence on the conducts and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) employed by malicious users.
Deepfakes have caused global alarm
Deepfakes refer to accounts and information that are counterfeit but represented in a realistic manner. These accounts and the misinformation they contain have caused panic globally, especially when utilised in a political context.
The EU code will also be linked to tough new EU rules known as the Digital Services Act (DSA) agreed by the 27-country European Union earlier this year which has a section on contending misinformation.
In addition to these new rules, companies that fail to comply with the new code could be fined up to 6 percent of their global turnover. Once companies have signed up to the code, they would be given a period of six months to implement measures to tackle these issues.
Signatories will also have to take measures to tackle advertising containing misinformation and provide more transparency on political advertising.
Thierry Breton, EU industry leader who is heading eh crackdown stated that the DSA would provide legal support to the new code of practice against disinformation, and this could also include heavy sanctions to dissuade such practices.
Vera Jourova, Vice-President of the Commission emphasised that the recent Russian war in Ukraine had made some of the changes in the code necessary.
She was also quoted as saying that once the code is operational, the Commission will be better prepared to address misinformation, including that which comes from deepfakes in Russia.