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Bipartisan group introduces new bill to combat “deepfake” technology, promote national security

U.S. Congressman Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) introduced a new bill this week alongside Reps. Jim Baird (R-IN), Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Katie Hill (D-CA) to support critical research to identify manipulated media content known as “deepfakes” that threaten to erode public discord, scam the American public and endanger our national security.

H.R. 4355, the Identifying Outputs of Generative Adversarial Networks Act (IOGAN Act), directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to support research to accelerate the development of technologies that could help improve the detection of deepfakes. Advancements in computing power and the widespread use of technologies like artificial intelligence over the past several years have made it easier and cheaper than ever before to manipulate and reproduce photographs, video and audio clips potentially harmful or deceptive to the American public. The ability to identify and label this content is critical to preventing foreign actors from using manipulated images and videos to shift U.S. public opinion.

“Recent technological advances have reshaped the world we live in, but with that come new threats to our national security that must be addressed,” said Congressman Gonzalez. “It is critical that we learn to identify and combat deepfake technology now to stop scammers and foreign entities who would seek to do harm to the American public.”

“In recent years, the development of deepfake technology has made it easier to create convincing fake videos, which have already been used for malicious purposes,” said Congresswoman Haley Stevens. “The Identifying Outputs of Generative Adversarial Networks Act will help us better understand deepfakes and learn how to prevent the proliferation of fake news, hoaxes, and other harmful applications of video manipulation technology.”

“As Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Research and Technology, I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of H.R. 4355. This legislation will play a critical role in funding more government research to detect this rapidly developing technology,” said Congressman Jim Baird.

“As technology advances, the proliferation of fake videos and misinformation will only get worse,” said Congresswoman Katie Hill. “The Identifying Outputs of Generative Adversarial Networks Act will invest in research that allows us to respond in a way that upholds the security of our country and stops these damaging manipulations from spreading.”

Deepfake technology has developed rapidly over the past several years with no clear method of identifying and stopping it from becoming a major national security threat. Earlier this year, Congressman Gonzalez’s amendment to combat “deepfakes,” offered alongside Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA), was included in the House passed National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 with unanimous support. The amendment directs the Department of Defense to take steps to identify and address manipulated media content that put our national security at risk.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation: “The IOGAN Act is an important step towards better understanding and responding to the risks from deepfakes. Deepfakes—inauthentic audio or video that are passed off as real—are a serious and growing problem that can be used to spread disinformation, harm reputations, and commit fraud. The legislation wisely avoids prescriptive rules for the underlying technology which has legitimate uses and will likely be integrated into many commercial video editing tools, and instead calls for research on better detection tools, collaboration between the public and private sectors, and the development of voluntary standards,” said Daniel Castro, director of the Center for Data Innovation.

R Street: "As new technologies for generating synthetic audiovisual materials advance, it is vital that we understand how to detect this fake content and how malicious actors may use it to cause harms. Not only does this bill takes great strides to support research on detecting AI-generated deep fake content, it also supports research into how individuals will interact with the fake media. This research will provide insights on how society might react to the technology and play a key role in combating next-generation disinformation efforts."

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