Lawmakers Want the Intel Community's Plan for Dealing with Fake Videos

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Some members of Congress are deeply concerned about deep fakes, videos which use machine-learning techniques to fabricate highly realistic clips and images which do not exist at all.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote a letter Thursday to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats asking about deep-fake technology and what the intelligence community plans to do about it.

The term "deepfakes" itself is the pseudonym of a programmer who creates these videos.

Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla. and Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., worry that deep fake-style videos could be used to blackmail people but could also be a tool to sway public opinion and elections, with dire consequences.

"You have repeatedly raised the alarm about disinformation campaigns in our elections and other efforts to exacerbate political and social divisions in our society to weaken our nation," the letter writes. "We are deeply concerned that deep fake technology could soon be deployed by malicious foreign actors." 

The letter requests a report from Coats to Congress by Dec. 14 on how to stop the spread of deep fakes, including specifics on what the intelligence community can do as well what actions Congress can take.

Other efforts to stop the general spread of misinformation are underway. Facebook announced Thursday it will delete fake accounts that spread misinformation and will put transparency controls in place ahead of the midterm elections. The FBI has also begun a program to fight foreign influence campaigns that may affect elections.