A first-of-its-kind regulation on “deepfakes” will be introduced by China in January. The term deepfakes refers to synthetically generated or altered images or videos made using artificial intelligence. For example, a politician’s face can be overlayed on an existing video or a fake speech can be created. This results in fabricated media that appears real but isn’t.
Beijing announced its rules governing “deep synthesis technologies” earlier this year, and they will go into effect on January 10. The following are some of the key provisions:
- Any deep synthesis technology that uses a user’s image requires the user’s consent.
- Fake news cannot be disseminated through deep synthesis services.
- Users of deepfake services must authenticate their real identities.
- It is necessary to notify users that synthetic content has been altered with the use of technology in some way.
- In addition to content that violates existing laws, content that endangers national security and interests, damages the national image, or disrupts the economy is prohibited.
These rules are regulated by the powerful Cyberspace Administration of China.
In the past year, China has introduced sweeping regulations ranging from antitrust to data protection in an effort to limit the power of its technology giants. However, it has also attempted to regulate emerging technologies and has gone further than any other country in doing so.
China introduced another first-of-its-kind law earlier this year that governs how technology firms can use recommendation algorithms.
Two goals are addressed by the law – tighter online censorship and getting ahead of new technology regulations.
Paul Triolo, the technology policy lead at Albright Stonebridge, told CNBC that Chinese authorities are keen to crack down on anti-regime elements using deepfakes of senior leaders.
As new technologies like AI-generated content begin to proliferate online, Chinese authorities are trying to get ahead of the curve by tackling tough online content issues.”
Moreover, Tiroo stated that Beijing has introduced artificial intelligence regulations in recent years in an effort to keep content regulation and censorship one step ahead of emerging technology, allowing Beijing to anticipate technologies that could circumvent the overall control system as they emerge.
There are some positive applications of deep synthesis technology in areas such as education and health care.
Despite this, China is trying to address its negative role in the production of fake news.
In a note published in February when the draft rules were announced, Kendra Schaefer, partner at Trivium China consultancy, discussed the implications of the landmark regulation.
It’s interesting to see that China is targeting one of the most critical threats to our society in the modern age: the erosion of trust in what we see and hear.
Chinese regulatory bodies have built experience enforcing tech rules through the introduction of regulation. There are some parts of the deepfake regulation that are unclear, such as how to prove you have consent from another to use their image. However, on the whole, Trivium stated in its note that China’s existing regulatory system will help enforce the rules.
The note noted that China is able to implement these rules because it already has systems in place to control content transmission in online spaces.