New legislation from Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, would create a new task force at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to combat deepfake technologies.

The Deepfake Task Force Act would charge the DHS task force with creating a coordinated plan to explore how a “‘digital content provenance’ standard could assist with reducing the spread of deepfakes, develop tools for content creators to authenticate their content and its origin, and increase the ability of civil society and industry leaders to relay trust and information about the source of the deepfakes to consumers.”

The senators said the task force would include experts from academia and the public and private sectors.

“Deepfakes present a serious national security threat as bad actors use the technology to deceive thousands of people with misinformation and forgeries,” said Sens. Peters. “This commonsense bipartisan bill will help strengthen our nation’s ability to combat malicious attempts to spread lies and further divide the American people.”

The newly introduced legislation builds on the Deepfake Report Act, also sponsored by Sens. Peters and Portman, which directed DHS to conduct an annual study of deepfakes and other types of similar content. The measure, which was signed into law last year as an amendment to the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act legislation, requires DHS to assess the technology used to generate deepfakes, the uses of deepfakes by foreign and domestic entities, and available countermeasures to deepfakes to help policymakers and the general public better understand the threats deepfakes pose to both national and election security.

That legislation was also sponsored by Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawai’i, Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.

“Deepfakes represent a unique threat to our national security and our democracy,” said Sen. Portman. “For most of human history seeing meant believing, but now that is becoming less and less true thanks to deepfakes. Combined with the network effects created by social media, fake videos or pictures can travel around the world in an instant, tricking citizens. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation because establishing a deepfake task force at the Department of Homeland Security will help solve this problem by making progress to develop standards so that companies, tech platforms, journalists, and all Americans can track and authenticate content so we can better separate the truth from the lies.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.