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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 17 January 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 17 January 2023


Context

India’s legal system faces an unprecedented backlog of cases, with approximately 4.4 crore cases pending in 2022 This backlog is exacerbated by a number of other issues, including inadequate infrastructure, a lack of judges, and the common practise of seeking adjournments, resulting in a lack of access to justice for a large number of individuals and businesses.

Relevance:

GS Paper-2: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity

Mains Question

By implementing Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) and Third Party Funding, India’s legal system can be greatly enhanced and made more accessible to all (TPF). Discuss (150 words) (150 words)


Current status of backlog:

  • An analysis of data from the National Judicial Data Grid, a database maintained by the Department of Justice, reveals that court backlogs increased by more than 27% between December 2019 and April 2022.
  • Subordinate courts: Subordinate courts, which include district and lower courts, currently have a record backlog of 4, 15, 12 098 (4,15 crore) cases.
    • This includes 3.06 billion criminal cases and 1.08 billion civil cases, according to data from the Department of Justice. More than 1,100,000 cases have been pending in district and lower courts for more than three decades.
  • High Courts: Of the 5.9 million (59 lakh) pending cases in India’s 25 High Courts, 42 lakh are civil cases and approximately 72,000 are more than 30 years old.
  • As of May 2022, the Supreme Court had 70,572 pending cases, according to the Supreme Court website.

What is the cause of the delay?

  • The lack of judges and the impact of the pandemic are viewed as the leading causes of high case backlogs, thereby increasing the burden on the judiciary.
  • The authorised strength of the 25 High Courts in India is 1,104 judges. As of April 2022, according to data from the Department of Justice, there are 387 open positions and 717 total employees. This suggests that India has only 717 HC judges to clear a backlog of 59 lakh cases, which roughly equates to one judge per 8,200 cases.
  • This backlog is exacerbated by a number of other issues, including inadequate infrastructure and the prevalent practise of seeking adjournments, resulting in a lack of access to justice for many individuals and businesses.

Option Available to Reduce This Case Backlog

  • Adopting Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) and Third Party Funding (TPF) is a viable option for reducing the backlog of pending cases.
    • Online dispute resolution: ODR is conducted electronically, typically through a web-based platform, and has the potential to increase both efficiency and accessibility. ODR can drastically reduce the time necessary to resolve disputes.
      • ODR can significantly reduce litigation costs because parties do not need to pay for courtrooms or travel expenses.
      • ODR provides parties with greater accessibility and convenience, as they are not required to be physically present during proceedings.
    • Third Party Funding: The financing of litigation or arbitration by an external third party, such as a specialised company, in exchange for a percentage of the award or settlement.
      • TPF facilitates access to justice for individuals and businesses with limited financial means.
      • TPF can provide litigants and their attorneys with increased liquidity, allowing them to pay for litigation or arbitration-related expenses.

Parliament’s Role:

  • Parliament should consider enacting laws that provide clear guidelines for the use of TPF and establish ODR as a viable option for resolving disputes.
    • This could involve establishing regulatory frameworks for TPF providers and ODR platforms, as well as training and certification programmes for practitioners.

Conclusion

  • Given the potential benefits of ODR and TPF for enhancing India’s legal system, Parliament must provide clarification on these issues and mandate their use as the primary dispute resolution option.
  • By combining ODR with TPF, India’s legal system can address a number of obstacles.
  • Disputes can be resolved more quickly because parties have greater access to funds for legal representation and do not have to wait for physical court proceedings. This can help reduce the backlog of cases and improve the legal system’s efficiency.

Action Needed to Control Deepfakes


Context

  • Absence of adequate oversight and regulations may allow people, businesses, and even non-state actors to abuse artificial intelligence (AI).
  • here is a need for regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in India, particularly “Deepfakes,” an application of AI, due to the legal ambiguity, lack of accountability, and lack of regulation, which can be disastrous at times.

Relevance

GS PAper-3: Threats to Indian Cyber Security; Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

Mains Question

How does “deepfake” technology work? In order to combat the malicious use of deepfakes, a strong legal framework is required due to the deepfakes’ growing threat. Discuss. (250 words)


What are Deepfakes

  • Deepfakes are hyper-realistic digital falsifications made from digital media, including video, audio, and images, which have been edited and manipulated with artificial intelligence.
  • To superimpose a digital composite onto an already-existing video, photo, or audio with a high potential for deception, cybercriminals and even malicious individuals use AI software.
    • Digital composite: A technique for combining elements from various media files to create a single final media file.
  • Facial expressions, voices, and news can all be replaced, voices synthesised, and faces synthesised using deepfake techniques.
  • Although the technology itself is used widely, there has been a significant rise in its misuse in recent years.
  • For instance, Deepfakes can be used to tarnish reputations, create false evidence, con the general public, and erode faith in democratic institutions.
  • Deepfakes’ Applications o Advantages in a few fields, including accessibility, education, filmmaking, criminal forensics, and creative expression.
    • Voice-cloning deepfakes can help people regain their voices after a disease has taken them away.
    • Deepfake videos can liven up exhibition spaces and museums.

How does the Deepfake system operate?

  • Autoencoders are a type of Artificial Neural Network (ANN) that contain both an encoder and a decoder, and they are used as the foundation for deep learning techniques known as deep fakes.
  • The input data is divided into an encoded representation before being reconstructed into fresh images that closely resemble the input images.
  • The autoencoders for the new face and the original face are combined in the deepfake software.

Issues with deepfakes

  • Dissemination of propaganda and false information
    • Deepfake videos can be used to spread propaganda and false information because they are engaging.
    • They seriously impair the general public’s ability to tell fact from fiction.
  • Using elicit content to defame someone
    • Deepfakes may show someone in an embarrassing or compromising situation.
    • Deepfake celebrity pornography, for example, constitutes harassment in addition to an invasion of privacy.
  • Financial fraud o In recent years, Deepfakes have been used for financial fraud, intimidation, and blackmail.
    • Scammers recently tricked the CEO of a U.K. energy company into believing he was on the phone with the CEO of the German parent company using AI-powered software.
    • As a result, the CEO sent what he believed to be a supplier a sizeable sum of money (€2,20,000).
  • Threats to international security
    • Deepfakes can be used to significantly sway elections.
  • Taiwan’s cabinet recently approved changes to election laws that will make sharing of deepfake videos or images illegal.
  • These amendments are a result of Taiwan’s growing concern that China is disseminating false information in an effort to sway public opinion and rig elections.
  • This might also occur in the elections in India.
  • Deepfakes can also be used in espionage to conduct covert operations.
  • Videos that have been altered can be used to extort state secrets from defence and government officials.
  • For instance, in March 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky revealed that a video that appeared to show him directing Ukrainian soldiers to surrender to Russian forces was a deepfake.
  • Deepfakes could be used in India to create inflammatory content, such as videos that claim to show the military or the police committing “crimes” in conflict zones. These deepfakes could be used to radicalise people, recruit terrorists, or incite violence.
  • Misuse by nonstate actors o Deepfakes can be employed by nonstate actors, such as insurgent groups and terrorist organisations, to portray their rivals as giving inflammatory speeches or acting provocatively in order to incite anti-state sentiments among the populace.
  • Resulting in “Liar’s Dividend”
    • The liar’s dividend, where an unfavourable truth is discounted as deepfake or fake news, is another issue with deepfakes.
    • The mere fact that deepfakes exist lends more credence to denials. Leaders may use alternative facts, fake news, and deep fakes as weapons in order to discredit real media and the truth.

Why is legislation necessary?

  • At the moment, there are very few provisions under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (punish sexually explicit material), and the Indian Penal Code (defamation) that could be potentially used to address the malicious use of deepfakes.
  • The IPC’s Section 500 outlines the penalties for defamation. The Information Technology Act’s Sections 67 and 67A penalise explicit sexual content.
    • During an election period, it is forbidden to create or disseminate false or deceptive information about candidates or political parties, according to the Representation of the People Act of 1951.
    • To help ensure their accuracy and fairness, the Election Commission of India has established rules requiring registered political parties and candidates to obtain prior approval for any political advertisements on electronic media, including TV and social media platforms.
      • All of the aforementioned suggestions fall short of providing a comprehensive solution to the various problems brought on by AI algorithms, such as the dangers that deepfake content may pose.

Potential remedies for the threat posed by deep fakes

  • To develop a discerning public, media literacy initiatives must be strengthened. Consumer media literacy is the most effective defence against deepfakes and misinformation.
  • Social media platforms are aware of the deepfake issue and nearly all of them have some policy or acceptable terms of use for deepfakes.
  • We also need meaningful regulations with a collaborative discussion with the technology industry, civil society, and policymakers to develop legislative solutions to deter the creation and distribution of malicious deepfakes. We also require user-friendly and widely available technological solutions to identify deepfakes, validate media, and amplify reliable sources.

Way Forward

  • Enact AI-specific legislation o The Union government should present AI-specific legislation that governs the nefarious use of deepfakes as well as the broader field of AI.
  • The proposed Digital India Bill can also address this issue. o Legislation should not impede AI innovation, but it should acknowledge that deepfake technology may be used to commit crimes and should include provisions to address the use of deepfakes in these situations.

Conclusion

In order to combat the threat of deepfakes, it is up to each and every one of us to be critical consumers of online media, to consider and pause before posting on social media, and to contribute to the cure for this “infodemic.”


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