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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 PortmanWaPo reporter says GOP has less incentive to go big on COVID-19 relief Republican frustration builds over Cabinet picks Senators call for passage of bill to cement alcohol excise tax relief MORE (R-Ohio), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzACLU sues DHS for records on purchased cell phone data to track immigrants DHS watchdog to probe agency's tracking of Americans' phone data without a warrant Tech CEOs clash with lawmakers in contentious hearing MORE (D-Hawaii), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstWaPo reporter says GOP has less incentive to go big on COVID-19 relief GOP chairman: Defense bill to include renaming Confederate bases, but not Section 230 repeal Iowa losses underscore Democrats' struggles with attracting rural voters MORE (R-Iowa), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichHispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham Progressives urge Haaland for Interior as short list grows Haaland has competition to be first Native American to lead Interior  MORE (D-N.M.), Cory GardnerCory GardnerMark Kelly to be sworn in as senator on Wednesday Hillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay 3 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities MORE (R-Colo.), Gary PetersGary PetersRepublican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff MORE (D-Mich.), Mike RoundsMike RoundsHillicon Valley: Government used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 | Defense bill leaves out Section 230 repeal, includes White House cyber czar position | Officials warn hackers are targeting vaccine supply chain Defense policy bill would create new cyber czar position Trump doubles down on Section 230 repeal after GOP pushback MORE (R-S.D.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanCut tariffs and open US economy to fight COVID-19 pandemic Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities Overnight Defense: Trump campaign's use of military helicopter raises ethics concerns | Air Force jets intercept aircraft over Trump rally | Senators introduce bill to expand visa screenings 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 PelosiBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser 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 ZuckerbergAttorneys general plan to sue Facebook over antitrust violations next week: report Facebook-backed cryptocurrency Libra changes names Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff 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.