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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 19 December 2022


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 19 December 2022


Contents

  1. Deepfake technology: how and why will China regulate it?  
  2. Decriminalization of offences under GST

Deepfake Technology: How and Why Will China Regulate it?


Context

The Chinese Cyberspace Administration, the country’s cyberspace watchdog, is implementing new regulations to limit the use of deep synthesis technology and combat disinformation. Deepfakes is one of the most notorious applications of the technology, in which synthetic media is used to swap one person’s face or voice for another.

Relevance

GS Paper – 3: Artificial Intelligence, Scientific Innovations & Discoveries

Mains Question

Deep fakes enable hyper-realistic digital falsification, which can harm individuals, institutions, businesses, and democracy. Discuss. (150 Words)


About DeepFake

  • A deepfake is a digitally manipulated image or video of a person that makes them appear to be someone else.
  • It is the next level of fake content generation that employs Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • It can create people who do not exist and fake real people saying and doing things they did not say or do.

Origin of the term

  • The term “deepfake” was coined in 2017 by an anonymous Reddit user who went by the handle “Deepfakes.”
  • This user took advantage of Google’s open-source, deep-learning technology to create and share pornographic videos.
  • The videos were doctored using the face-swapping technique. The user “Deepfakes” altered real people’s faces to look like celebrities.

How is this technology being abused?

  • Deepfake technology is now being used for criminal purposes such as o Scams and hoaxes, o Celebrity pornography, o Election manipulation, o Social engineering, o Automated disinformation attacks, o Identity theft and financial fraud.
  • Deepfake technology has been used to impersonate former US Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, as well as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, among others.

China’s new anti-deepfake policy:

  • Under China’s new policy, deep synthesis service providers and users must ensure that any doctored content created with the technology is clearly labelled and can be traced back to its source.
    • The regulation also requires people who use the technology to edit someone’s image or voice to notify and obtain the person’s consent.
    • When reposting news made by the technology, the source can only be from the government-approved list of news outlets.
    • Deep synthesis service providers must also abide by local laws, respect ethics, and maintain the “correct political direction and correct public opinion orientation”, according to the new regulation.

Need for such Policy

  • The Chinese Cyberspace Administration expressed concern that unchecked development and use of deep synthesis could lead to its use in criminal activities such as online scams or defamation.
    • The new policy aims to reduce risks associated with activities provided by platforms that use deep learning or virtual reality to alter any online content.
    • If successful, China’s new policies could set an example and lay the groundwork for other countries to follow.

How are other countries combating deepfakes?

  • European Union – The EU has an updated Code of Practice in place to combat the spread of disinformation via deepfakes.
    • The revised Code mandates that tech companies such as Google, Meta, and Twitter take steps to combat deepfakes and fake accounts on their platforms.
    • After signing up to the Code, they have six months to put their plans into action.
    • If found noncompliant, these businesses could face fines of up to 6% of their annual global turnover.
  • United States – o In July 2021, the United States introduced the bipartisan Deepfake Task Force Act to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) combat deepfake technology.
    • The measure requires the DHS to conduct an annual study of deepfakes, assessing the technology used, tracking its use by foreign and domestic entities, and developing available countermeasures.
  • India – Currently, there are no legal restrictions on the use of deepfake technology in India.
  • However, specific laws can be addressed for misusing technology, such as copyright violations, defamation, and so on.

Decriminalization of Offences Under GST


Context

  • The finance minister chaired the 48th GST Council, which recommended decriminalising certain offences under Section 132 of the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Act, 2017, which provides for the levy of the CGST.
  • Other recommendations for trade facilitation include raising the tax threshold for prosecution, lowering the compounding amount in GST, and so on.

Relevance

GS Paper – 2: Government Policies & Interventions

GS Paper – 3: Growth & Development, Constitutional Bodies

Mains Question

Write different aspects of GST evasion related financial crimes. Till now what all precautions have been taken? (150 Words)


The Goods and services tax (GST)

  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is an indirect tax that went into effect on July 1, 2017 as a result of the Indian government’s implementation of the 101st Amendment to the Indian Constitution.
  • It has actually replaced various indirect taxes in the country such as service taxes, VAT, excise, and others.
  • It is levied on the manufacturer or seller of goods as well as the providers of services.
  • It is divided into five different tax slabs for collection of tax – 0%, 5%, 12%, 18%, and 28%.
  • GST classifications: State Goods and Services Tax (SGST), Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST), and Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) (IGST).

GST Council:

  • Article 279A of the Indian Constitution empowers the President of India to form the GST Council, a joint forum of the Centre and States comprised of – o Union Finance Minister – Chairperson
    • The Union Minister of State in charge of Finance Revenue – Members include the Minister in charge of finance or taxation, as well as any other Minister nominated by each state government.
  • The GST Council is an apex committee charged with modifying, reconciling, or making recommendations to the Union and the States on GST issues such as the goods and services that may be subjected to or exempted from GST, model GST laws, and so on.
  • Decisions in the GST Council require a three-fourths majority of weighted votes cast.
    • The Centre receives one-third of the total votes cast, while all states receive two-thirds of the total votes cast.
    • The GST Council reached all of its decisions through consensus.

Criminalisation of offences under GST

  • Need: o Since the implementation of GST, there has been a significant increase in tax evasion, with taxpayers employing a variety of techniques to avoid detection of indirect tax.
    • Tax authorities are actively combating evasion by utilising technology and data from e-way bills and GST returns.
    • The GST law imposes strict penalties and guidelines on taxpayers in order to ensure smooth intrastate or interstate trade of goods, combat corruption, and maintain an effective tax collection system.
  • There are two types of penalties under GST law: They can be both concurrent and simultaneous – o Department officials have the authority to levy monetary fines and seize property as punishment for violating statutory provisions.
    • Criminal penalties include imprisonment and fines, both of which are provided for by GST Law but can only be awarded in a criminal court after a prosecution.
  • The length of the prison sentence is determined by the amount of tax evaded, the amount of Input Tax Credit (ITC) improperly claimed or used, or the amount of refund improperly claimed.
    • Penalty provisions are found in Sections 122 to 131 of the CGST Act of 2017, while prosecution and compounding provisions are found in Sections 132 to 138.
    • The aforementioned section further distinguishes between cognisable and bailable offences and those that are not cognisable and bailable.

Other Considerations

  • The need to decriminalise offences: The GST law is still in its infancy. As a result, it is critical to recognise that imposing punitive measures in an uncertain ecosystem has an impact on firms’ ability to conduct business.
  • The 48th GST Council meeting recommended measures such as: o Raising the minimum tax amount for launching a GST prosecution from one to two crore.
    • Reducing the compounding amount from 50 to 150% of the tax amount to 25 to 100% of the tax amount.
    • Making certain offences under Section 132 of the CGST Act, 2017, such as obstructing any officer from performing his duties, deliberately tampering with material evidence, and failing to supply information, non-criminal.
    • Other suggestions include refunding unregistered individuals and facilitating e-commerce for small businesses.
  • Potential consequences: o Prosecution, arrest, and imprisonment in GST cases would be rare.
  • It will facilitate doing business.

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