Stephanie Murphy bill takes on ‘deepfakes’

Stephanie Murphy
Internet and social media spread such items quickly.

Doctored video. Edited audio. Altered photograph. Completely false meme, intended to ferment political anger.

At what point does fake news spread on the internet become a national security issue? Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is joining a bill to look into it.

Murphy is one of three original co-sponsors of a bipartisan bill that would instruct the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to assess the threat from “deepfakes”, internet-spread information hoaxes that go as far as a widely-circulated, computer-generated animation video fictitiously showing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg claiming to be taking control of the world’s data.

Murphy’s fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer of Washington introduced HR 3600 on Friday. Murphy and Republican U.S. Reps. Peter King of New York and Will Hurd of Texas  announced Tuesday they are cosponsoring the Deepfakes Report Act of 2019.”

The bill calls for Homeland Security to publish annual reports on the rising threat of digital information forgeries, or “deepfake” technology,” and the ramifications for national security and democracy.

Last year Murphy wrote an amendment to have the Director of National Intelligence to report to congress on the emerging “deepfake technologies.” The DNI has since provided a classified report to congressional intelligence committees.

“Deepfake technology has the potential to be used by bad actors to sow chaos in our society and undermine our democratic process,” Murphy stated in a news release announcing the bill.

“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.”

The reference to enemies comes from Murphy’s previously-stated concerns that Russia in particular has used deepfake technologies spread through the internet to sew political discord in the United States.

Hurd is a former CIA officer.

“Deepfakes are just one of the forms of disinformation that our government and society are unprepared for as technology continues to advance,” Hurd stated in the press release.

“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.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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