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Senate passes legislation to combat 'deepfake' videos

Senate passes legislation to combat 'deepfake' videos

The Senate on Thursday passed bipartisan legislation intended to help further understand the risks posed by “deepfake” videos, or those altered by artificial intelligence to change the meaning of the video.

The Deepfake Report Act would require the Department of Homeland Security to publish an annual report on the use of deepfake technology that would be required to include an assessment of how both foreign governments and domestic groups are using deepfakes to harm national security.

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The bipartisan bill was passed by unanimous consent and now heads to the House for consideration. Companion legislation in that chamber, which is also bipartisan, awaits markup in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Senate version is sponsored by Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate Democrats vote to provide 0 unemployment benefits into September Senate GOP gets short-lived win on unemployment fight Senate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill MORE (R-Ohio), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzMinimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster Little known Senate referee to play major role on Biden relief plan Bipartisan group of lawmakers proposes bill to lift rule putting major financial burden on USPS MORE (D-Hawaii), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstRepublicans demand arms embargo on Iran after militia strikes in Iraq Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill MORE (R-Iowa), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichDemocrats worry Senate will be graveyard for Biden agenda Democrats offer bill on Puerto Rico statehood USPS adding up to 165K fuel efficient or electric delivery vehicles MORE (D-N.M.), Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (R-Colo.), Gary PetersGary PetersDemocratic centrists flex power on Biden legislation Alarming threat prompts early exit, underscoring security fears Five takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing MORE (D-Mich.), Mike RoundsMike RoundsSenate braces for 'God-awful,' 'stupid' session ahead of COVID-19 relief vote Indigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland Powell pushes back on GOP inflation fears MORE (R-S.D.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanThe eight Democrats who voted 'no' on minimum wage Justice Democrats call moderates' votes against minimum wage hike 'unconscionable' Senate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike MORE (D-N.H.), all of whom said they were happy with Friday's passage of the bill.

Peters, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement that “with each passing day, deepfakes become easier to create and distribute, opening the door for bad actors to sow discord and mislead thousands with just the click of a button.”

He added that “as we come to terms with this new reality, we must ensure Americans are aware of the risks this new technology poses, and are empowered to recognize misinformation.”

Rounds noted in a separate statement that deepfakes could be used by malicious actors to “influence our elections by manipulating what we see online,” while Hassan described deepfakes as “undermining our ability to separate truths from lies, directly threatening our democracy.”

Deepfakes have been an increasing issue of concern on Capitol Hill this year, particularly after a video of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food Andrew Yang condemns attacks against Asian Americans Congress in lockdown: Will we just 'get used to it'? MORE (D-Calif.) that had been edited to make her appear intoxicated went viral online. Facebook refused to take the video down, though it did not recommend it on its news feed.

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergNew York Times expands its live news staff Hillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Far-right misinformation received highest engagement on Facebook: study MORE addressed deepfakes while testifying before the House Financial Services Committee this week.

He described deepfake videos as an “emerging threat that we need to get in front of,” and referenced work that his company is doing to study and combat the problem. The company announced in September that it would invest $10 million to study deepfakes.