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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

Microsoft to release new tool to crack down on deep fakes as election period nears

The use of deep fakes has become a major concern as AI continues to become more mainstream. Cases of malicious actors manipulating videos from popular people using AI to spread misinformation have increased and we can only expect it to get worse as the election period nears for several nations.

The US has even proposed a new legislature dubbed Protect Elections from Deceptive AI that seeks to ban the use of AI to make “materially deceptive content falsely depicting federal candidates.”

Sensing the opportunity, Microsoft has said it will begin offering deep fake prevention services starting with a digital watermark identifying AI content.

Microsoft president Brad Smith and Microsoft’s corporate vice president, Technology for Fundamental Rights Teresa Hutson made the announcement through a blog post.

The pair revealed that there’s a tool in the works that will allow election candidates to use the Content Credentials watermarking system developed by the Coalition for Content Provenance Authenticity (C2PA) to prevent the use of their content and likeness in spreading misinformation.

C2PA is a group of companies including Adobe that was founded in 2019 and works to develop technical standards to certify content provenance.

Microsoft is naming the solution Content Credentials as a Service and it will allow users to attach identifying information to an image or video’s metadata. This information includes, when, how, and who created the content. The tool will be able to tell if AI was used in creating the image or video.

“Content credentials” which was built by the Microsoft Azure team will officially launch in the Spring of next year with political campaigns having priority access.

As part of the new initiative, Microsoft has also created a team to advise campaign teams on cybersecurity best practices as well as how to leverage AI in their workflows. The company has said it will set up what it calls an Election Communications Hub where world governments can get access to Microsoft’s security teams before elections.

Additionally, Microsoft plans to collaborate with groups like the National Association of State Election Directors, Reporters Without Borders, and the Spanish news agency EFE to provide trusted sources of election information for users on Bing.

The use of deep fakes has always been a problem, but the new AI wave has made the process significantly simpler and there’s general concern that the power will be abused. Whether or not content watermarking can help curb the new threat remains to be seen.


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