10.29.19

Senate Passes Peters’ Bipartisan Bill to Address Rising Threat of Deepfakes

Realistic, Forged Videos Could Pose Threats to National Security & Public Safety

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate unanimously approved bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to address the national security threat posed by forged video content. The Deepfake Reports Act will help to protect Americans from misinformation spread online by hyper-realistic digital manipulations of audio and video known as deepfakes. The legislation directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct an annual study of deepfakes to help policymakers and the American public better understand the threats deepfakes pose to our national security and democratic processes. The bill will now head to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

“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,” said Senator Peters. “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. I’m pleased the Senate has approved this practical, bipartisan solution that will shine a light on this problem and help the public better understand and address the growing threat from deepfakes.”

“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,” said Senator Portman. “Addressing the challenges posed by deepfakes will require policymakers to grapple with important questions related to civil liberties and privacy. This bill prepares our country to answer those questions and address concerns by ensuring we have a sound understanding of this issue. As concerns with deepfakes grow by the day, I applaud my Senate colleagues for passing this bipartisan legislation and hope the House will take it up soon.”

With the aid of rapidly advancing technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, deepfakes are created by manipulating digital audio, visual, or text content to depict events that did not actually occur. These hyper-realistic manipulations make it difficult for the public to determine whether digital content is authentic, creating the potential for deepfakes to be weaponized by bad actors to spread false information and undermine public trust.

The Deepfake Reports Act directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to produce periodic reports on deepfakes to raise public awareness of possible fraudulent or misleading content, improve our understanding of the technology used to generate deepfakes, and identify how foreign governments or their proxies use the technology to harm national security. The bill also instructs DHS to consider available technological countermeasures and legislative responses to combat the rising threat of deepfakes.

The Deepfake Reports Act was also cosponsored by Brian Schatz (D-HI), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH)

###