Bipartisan trio asks US intelligence to investigate ‘deepfakes’

Bipartisan trio asks US intelligence to investigate ‘deepfakes’
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan trio of lawmakers pushing for U.S. intelligence agencies to investigate the national security impacts that “deepfakes” pose.

“Deepfakes” is a term used to describe falsely manipulated audio and video files.

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In their letter, the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff blasts DOJ over memo on withholding Trump tax returns Schiff blasts DOJ over memo on withholding Trump tax returns Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data MORE (D-Calif.), Rep. Stephanie MurphyStephanie Murphy2020 Democrats mark three years since Pulse nightclub shooting 2020 Democrats mark three years since Pulse nightclub shooting Florida lawmakers propose making Pulse nightclub a national memorial MORE (D-Fla.) and Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz MORE (R-Fla.) said that they were “deeply concerned that deep fake technology could soon be deployed by malicious foreign actors.”

The three asked Director of National Intelligence, Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHillicon Valley: Tim Cook visits White House | House hearing grapples with deepfake threat | Bill, Melinda Gates launch lobbying group | Tech turns to K-Street in antitrust fight | Lawsuit poses major threat to T-Mobile, Sprint merger Hillicon Valley: Tim Cook visits White House | House hearing grapples with deepfake threat | Bill, Melinda Gates launch lobbying group | Tech turns to K-Street in antitrust fight | Lawsuit poses major threat to T-Mobile, Sprint merger House Intel to take first major deep dive into threat of 'deepfakes' MORE, to examine the matter further.

“Given the significant implications of these technologies and their rapid advancement we believe that a thorough review by the Intelligence Community is appropriate, including an assessment of possible counter-measures and recommendations to Congress,” they wrote.

In their list of requests, they asked that Coats assess how foreign governments, intelligence or individuals could make use of the technology to the detriment of U.S. national security as well as describe any already known or suspected uses of it.

The three believe that deepfakes are the next frontier in foreign election meddling efforts, which caught American lawmakers off guard in 2016 as Russia used Facebook in an attempt to influence American politics.

Schiff, Murphy and Curbelo’s letter is only the latest flag lawmakers have raised on the matter.

In February, several lawmakers expressed concern about the potential harms such technology could bring both on a national security level, but also in people’s everyday lives.

“I’m much more worried about what could come next — could bad actors target kids with fake videos from people they trust?” Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Trump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' MORE (D-Va.) questioned during an event in February addressing the dangers technology can pose for children.