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China seeks to root out fake news and deepfakes with new online content rules

Chinese regulators have announced new rules governing video and audio content online, including a ban on the publishing and distribution of “fake news” created with technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Any use of AI or virtual reality also needs to be clearly marked in a prominent manner and failure to follow the rules could be considered a criminal offence, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said on its website.

The rules, effective Jan 1, were published publicly on its website on Nov 29 after being issued to online video and audio service providers last week.

In particular, the CAC highlighted potential problems caused by deepfake technology, which uses AI to create hyper-realistic videos where a person appears to say or do something they did not.

Deepfake technology could “endanger national security, disrupt social stability, disrupt social order and infringe upon the legitimate rights and interests of others”, according to a transcript of a press briefing published on the CAC’s website.

China’s top legislative body said earlier this year it was considering making deepfake technology illegal.

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