Senate committee advances 'deepfakes' legislation

Senate committee advances 'deepfakes' legislation
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A Senate committee on Wednesday approved legislation designed to lessen the threats posed by altered or manipulated videos known as "deepfakes."

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved by voice vote bipartisan legislation that would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct an annual study of deepfakes and similar content.

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The measure, introduced last month by Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Lawmakers call for investigation into program meant to help student loan borrowers with disabilities Senators sound alarm on dangers of ransomware attacks after briefing MORE (R-Ohio) and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenators want FERC to protect critical infrastructure from Huawei threats Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics This week: House to vote on Turkey sanctions bill MORE (D-N.M.), also would require DHS to assess the artificial intelligence (AI) technologies used to create deepfakes and propose changes or new regulations around these technologies.

“As AI rapidly becomes an intrinsic part of our economy and society, AI-based threats, such as deepfakes have become an increasing threat to our democracy,” Portman said in a statement following the markup. “Addressing the challenges posed by deepfakes will require policymakers to grapple with important questions related to civil liberties and privacy.”

The committee’s approval of the legislation readies the bill for floor action, though a floor vote is not guaranteed.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have become increasingly concerned about deepfakes in the lead-up to the 2020 elections. The technology allows for the manipulation of content to falsify what occurred in the original video.

In the House, a companion bill to the Senate measure was introduced in June by Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Pete King (R-N.Y.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Will Hurd (R-Texas). It is awaiting consideration at the committee level.

The House Intelligence Committee held a hearing on deepfakes last month, when Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Top Republican: Democrats' weekend document dump shows impeachment inquiry is a 'farce' Nunes: 'Sickening' that Schiff obtained his phone records MORE (D-Calif.) described the videos as “nightmarish” to legislate.