China's Rules on 'Deepfakes' to Come Into Force From January 10, Cyberspace Regulator Says

China's regulations are designed to protect people from being impersonated by deepfakes without their consent.

China's Rules on 'Deepfakes' to Come Into Force From January 10, Cyberspace Regulator Says

China had introduced online content rules to curb fake news and deepfakes in 2020

  • Deepfake images are virtually indistinguishable from the original
  • Move comes as Chinese authorities tighten Internet policing
  • New rules over deepfakes are designed to prevent impersonation

China's new rules for content providers that alter facial and voice data will take effect from January 10, its cyberspace regulator said, as it looks to more tightly scrutinize so-called "deepfake" technology and services. The regulations from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) issued late on Sunday provide for people to be protected from being impersonated without their consent by deepfakes - images that are virtually indistinguishable from the original, and easily used for manipulation or misinformation.

The CAC said the move was aimed at curbing risks that might arise from activities provided by such platforms that use deep learning or virtual reality to alter any online content, what the regulator calls "deep synthesis service providers", and to also promote the industry's healthy development.

Last month, the cyberspace regulator announced it would revise its rules that will require operators of online and social media accounts to strengthen their review and management of comments left on their pages.

The CAC had stated that account operators should set up and improve their systems to review comments, and be ready to report illegal and undesirable information to the regulator.

Public account producers and operators who provide services for follow-up comments are also required to assess the credibility of the account users making those comments, reasonably set up management rights and offer technical support, according to the statement. The regulator did not specify penalties for rule violations.

In June, the CAC proposed an addition to the existing rules, urging platforms to take action against holders of public accounts that disseminate "illegal or bad content", such as by issuing warnings or deleting their posts, and report such incidents to the regulator in a timely manner.

The announcement comes as Chinese authorities are tightening their policing of the internet and what topics the public is allowed to discuss. Social media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo regularly block or delete posts and comments. The amendments to existing rules will be effective from December 15, the regulator had stated at the time.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Further reading: Deepfake, China, Social Media, Weibo
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