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Europol finds urgent actions needed to counter criminals using deepfakes

Europol finds urgent actions needed to counter criminals using deepfakes

Convinced that deepfakes already pose an unprecedented criminal threat, the European Union’s law enforcement agency says lawmakers and regulators need to step up now. Police need the resources to detect and prevent successful deepfakes.

Europol has published a report describing deepfakes and the danger they pose to EU citizens. Countering deepfakes will require governments to adapt tools and policies in order to combat “the new reality of deepfakes.”

The report goes through a list of risks that governments now face, the last of which was “maintaining trust in the face of an increase disinformation.”

As a demonstration of awareness, the report is encouraging to security experts of all kinds, but the top risk posed by deepfake algorithms is distrust. It is an important point, and it has been underplayed in the past.

Two years ago next month, a NATO Strategic Communications panel concluded that deepfakes were not a major threat. People — including troops — are either jaded or educated about misinformation and would not trust and act on the words of a deepfaked leader.

Relatively unsophisticated deepfakes of the Ukrainian and Russian Presidents were shared on social media but quickly recognized as fakes in March.

One of the NATO panelists talked about “the almost mythological subject of deepfakes.”

Risk prioritization aside, the Europol communicates urgency about deepfakes.

“In the months and years ahead, it is highly likely that threat actors will make increasing use of deepfake technology” to commit crimes or mislead public opinion.

Laws and compliance tools are needed. Social media platforms should be all but deputized to seek and remove deepfakes.

Likewise, police agencies have to train now for deepfake detection. Facial and voice biometrics are heady new avenues for crimefighting, and could eventually be compromised by deepfake media, the report suggests, leading to a recommendation not to rely on “specific deepfake detection systems.”

Researchers worldwide are working on countermeasures, but the technology moves so fast it is difficult to feel confident advances will not quickly be overtaken by new threat techniques.

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