The government, tech companies, and the public are not ready for disinformation and election interference in 2020, Rep. Adam Schiff told "Recode Decode" with Kara Swisher on Monday.
"The tech companies aren't ready," said Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee. "They don't have, I think, their policies fully thought out yet. The government isn't ready. We don't have the technologies yet to be able to detect more sophisticated fakes. And the public, by and large, when you bring up 'deepfake,' they don't know what you're referring to."
The California Democrat emphasized that "we don't have much time. It's eight months until the primaries begin to try to prepare the public, prepare ourselves, determine what other steps need to be taken to protect ourselves from this kind of disinformation."
To express that concern, Schiff wrote a letter to tech companies warning that a "timely, convincing, deepfake video of a candidate going viral on a platform like Facebook/Twitter/Google/YouTube could hijack, erase, or even alter the course of history" in the election.
He said he wrote the letter "to essentially try to put them on notice about the problem of deepfakes, [asking] what they're going to do about it, what they've done already, what their policies are."
Schiff noted the difficulties in combatting the problem but said it is essential to do so.
"This is a difficult space for the government to operate in, because we're not going to censor people, but we can use the bully pulpit to try to encourage good behavior," he said. "We can also share information. When we learn through the intelligence community that Russia is pushing out a deepfake, we can alert the companies to it. There needed to be better cooperation, coordination in the last election."
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