Truth decayBipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Tackle Rising Threat of Deepfakes

Published 2 July 2019

New bipartisan bill would require DHS secretary to publish annual report on the state of digital content forgery. “Deepfakes pose a serious threat to our national security, homeland security, and the integrity of our elections,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Washington), one of the bill’s sponsors.

U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-Washington) and Peter King (R-New York), along with Stephanie Murphy (D-Florida) and Will Hurd (R-Texas), introduced the Deepfakes Report Act of 2019. The bipartisan legislation would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to publish an annual report on the state of digital content forgery or “deepfake” technology.

Deepfakes are realistic, digital manipulations of real content that depict events that did not actually occur. These fake audios and videos dangerously sound and look like the real thing. The measure requires the DHS to assess the technology used to generate deepfakes, the uses of deepfakes by foreign and domestic entities, available countermeasures to deepfakes, as well as proposed changes to, or creations of, additional statutory and regulatory authorities to address the rising threat of deepfakes.

Senators Portman (R-Ohio), Heinrich (D-New Mexico), Ernst (R-Iowa), Schatz (D-Hawaii), Gardner (R-Colorado), Peters (D-Michigan), and Rounds (R-South Dakota), have introduced the legislation in the Senate.

“Deepfakes pose a serious threat to our national security, homeland security, and the integrity of our elections,” said Kilmer. “While there is effort underway to counter these videos on social networks and video sites, it is currently being done through a patchwork of policies. Congress should act to ensure that the federal government truly understands the scope of this technology as it takes steps to protect against misinformation.”

“It is imperative that Congress fully understands the catastrophic impact Deepfake technology can have on our homeland and our economy,” said King.

“Deep fake technology has the potential to be used by bad actors to sow chaos in our society and undermine our democratic process. That’s why Congress needs to be properly informed about the national security threats posed by this emerging technology, and the best way to stop them. We cannot allow our enemies to use these tools to threaten our nation’s security and democracy,” said Murphy, a former national security specialist at the Department of Defense.

“Deepfakes are just one of the forms of disinformation that our government and society are unprepared for as technology continues to advance,” said Hurd. “Our government needs a strategy to counter disinformation and work with the private sector to address these threats. This bipartisan bill is important first step to identify and mitigate the challenges created by deepfakes.”

The bill is endorsed by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).

The text of the bill can be found here.