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 PortmanSenate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses Collins walks impeachment tightrope The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions MORE (R-Ohio) and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichDemocratic senator blasts 'draconian' press restrictions during impeachment trial Health care, spending bills fuel busy year for K Street Schumer introduces bill requiring GDP measure inequality 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 SchiffTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Schiff says Justice Roberts should rule on witnesses Schiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line MORE (D-Calif.) described the videos as “nightmarish” to legislate.