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Chinese Government Makes Publishing Deepfakes a Crime

Dominique Adams

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Beijing, China

The rule bans the publishing of fake news or deepfakes online without clearly denoting that the post was created using AI.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has outlined new regulations on its website governing video and audio content online in an effort to stop the spread of misleading content.

The rule, which goes into effect as of the 1st of January 2020, bans the publishing of fake news or deepfakes online without clearly denoting that the post was created using artificial intelligence (AI) or Virtual Reality (VR).

Deepfakes are types of digital images, video and sounds that are produced using AI that appear to be real. It can be used to overlay images of celebrity faces on other peoples’ bodies convincingly.

The deepfake video of Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, which was retweeted by NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, is highly cited as an example of how the technology can be misused. The video, which was viewed more than 2.5 million times, showed Pelosi slurring her words implying she was drunk, along with Giuliani’s caption “What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Her speech pattern is bizarre”.

According to the South China Morning Post, the CAC said: “With the adoption of new technologies, such as deepfake, in online video and audio industries, there have been risks in using such content to disrupt social order and violate people’s interests, creating political risks and bringing a negative impact to national security and social stability”.

Earlier this year, the Chinese Government said it was considering criminalising the making deepfake technology. The new regulation is similar to the one passed recently in the US, AB 730.

Last month, California became the first US state to outlaw the use of deepfakes in political campaign promotions and advertising.

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AB 720 makes it a crime to publish audio, imagery, or video that gives a false, damaging impression of a politician’s words or actions, however, the rule excludes parody as well as satire.

In September, there was controversy over a new app called Zao that allowed users to swap their faces with celebrities and well known figures using deepfake technology. The wildly popular app was subsequently shutdown over privacy concerns it was collecting biometric data. Zao apologised and said it would not collect users’ biometric information.

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Dominique Adams

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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