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 'unlikely' to return on April 20, top GOP senator says Phase-four virus relief hits a wall GOP senator to donate 2 months of salary in coronavirus fight MORE (R-Ohio) and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichDemocrats call for pollution reduction requirements in any aid for airlines, cruises Coronavirus takes toll on Capitol Hill GOP chairman cancels Hunter Biden-related subpoena vote 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 SchiffHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Schiff calls on DNI Grenell to explain intelligence community changes READ: Schiff plans to investigate Trump firing intel watchdog MORE (D-Calif.) described the videos as “nightmarish” to legislate.