Peters, Portman Bill Responding to Growing Threat of Deepfakes Advances in Senate

WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) to address the emergence of forged video content was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Peters serves as the Ranking Member. The Deepfake Reports Act was introduced in response to the emergence of hyper-realistic, digital manipulations of real video and audio content, commonly referred to as deepfakes, which can be used to depict events that did not actually occur. Deepfakes pose a serious threat to national security and public safety because manipulated content could be used by malicious actors to intentionally deceive or mislead the public.

“Rapid advances in artificial intelligence technology combined with an increasing reliance on social media as a primary news source have left us more vulnerable than ever to bad actors attempting to sew discord and spread misinformation. Soon enough, anyone with a computer and an internet connection will have the power to mislead thousands with just the push of a button,” said Senator Peters. “I’m pleased the committee unanimously approved this bipartisan bill to help our country recognize and combat this emerging national security threat.”

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 bill also received support from former Michigan Congressman and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI).

Peters also cosponsored legislation to help Americans learn how to identify this kind of misinformation and combat targeted influence operations spearheaded by foreign adversaries and other bad actors. The Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act would create a grant program at the Department of Education to help develop digital and media literacy education across grades K-12. The bill would allow grant funds to be used to incorporate media literacy into existing curriculum, develop new curricula through the establishment of media literacy advisory councils, and hire educators with experience in media literacy.

“With advancing technology, it’s getting harder and harder to tell what’s real and what’s not – especially when it comes to the content we see on social media,” said Senator Peters. “We need to ensure that today’s students are learning how to discern facts from misinformation in our increasingly digital world so that we can prevent adversaries from manipulating or misleading us. This commonsense bill will help ensure that we have the tools and training needed to adapt to this rapidly changing media landscape.”

The legislation has been endorsed by the National Association for Media Literacy, Media Literacy Now, and the Executive Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.