Rubio Warns That Fake Videos Pose 'a Major Threat to Our Democracy'

By Susan Jones | May 15, 2018 | 10:43am EDT
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says he's concerned about nation-states using realistic fake videos to influence U.S. elections. (Photo: Screen capture/C-SPAN)

( - Realistic fake videos increasingly pose a major threat to our democracy, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday.

"Deep fakes -- are you familiar with that term?" Rubio asked William Evanina, tapped by President Trump to be the next director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

Evanina said no, so Rubio explained:

"A deep fake is the ability to manipulate sound images or video to make it appear that a certain person did something that they didn't do." The senator said the videos are increasingly realistic, thanks to advances in technology.

"I think you can only imagine what a nation-state could do with that technology, particularly to our politics," Rubio said.

If we could imagine for a moment, a foreign intelligence agency could use deep fakes to produce a fake video of an American politician using a racial epithet or taking a bribe, or anything of that nature.

They could use a fake video of a U.S. soldier massacring civilians overseas. They could use a fake video of a U.S. official admitting a secret plan to do some conspiracy theory of some kind. They could use a fake video of a prominent official discussing some sort of impending disaster that could sow panic.

And imagine a compelling video like this, produced on the eve of an election or a few days before a major public policy decision, with a culture that has already a kind of a built-in bias towards believing outrageous things; a media that is quick to promulgate it and spread it; and of course social media, where you can't stop its spread.

I believe that this is the next wave of attacks against America and western democracies is the ability to produce fake videos that can only be determined to be fake after extensive analytical analysis, and by then the election's over, and millions of Americans have seen an image that they want to believe anyway because of their preconceived bias against that individual.

Rubio asked Evanina if there is any work being done anywhere in the U.S. government to begin to confront the threat that can or will be posed by realistic fake videos and audios "that could be used to cause all sorts of chaos in our country."

"The answer is yes," Evanina replied.

"The intelligence community and our law enforcement is actively working to not only understand the complexities and capabilities of our adversaries, but what, from a predictive analysis perspective, we may face going forward, particularly with the election this fall as well as 2020."

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