The Deepfake Report Act of 2019 (HR 3600) mandates the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s Science and Technology Directorate produce a report every 18 months on the state of deepfake technology, taking into account public comments and consultations with other federal government agencies. The bill requires the report include, among others, a summary of the underlying technology, an assessment of the potential for foreign entities to use digital content forgeries to threaten national security, and potential counter-measures the federal government could take.
“Deepfakes” are manipulated videos that make people say or do things they did not say or do. The technology behind deepfakes—artificial intelligence and deep-learning machine algorithms—make editing digital content easier and more precise than ever before. While deepfake technologies are commercially used by large production companies and smaller mobile app developers for entertainment purposes, in recent years, deepfake videos of high-profile individuals have surfaced on the internet. Deepfakes of Barack Obama speaking inappropriately and Nancy Pelosi acting drunk have emerged. One copy of the doctored Nancy Pelosi video was viewed over 2.5 million times on Facebook.
There is traction at both the federal and state level for regulation. In July 2019, Virginia became one of the first states to ban the technology in relation to “deepfake revenge porn.” In June 2019, the House Intelligence Committee held a hearing on “The National Security Challenge of Artificial Intelligence, Manipulated Media, and ‘Deepfakes.’”