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Can Deepfakes Be Used Against Me in Court?

Posted on March 8, 2021 by Chris Kirker

The rise of artificial audio/visual media, or “deepfakes,” has been a cause for concern among national security circles for several years now. Deepfake technology has reached a level of sophistication that can dupe even the most discriminating viewer. And as the technology that makes deepfakes possible trickles down into the consumer level, more and more people have questioned how the technology may affect their lives. An experienced attorney can guide you.

The legal industry has paid special attention to the rise of deepfakes due to the technology’s ability to improperly influence judicial outcomes. Individuals engaged in a legal matter may also have concerns about their opponents’ (such as a vengeful spouse or an estranged business partner) ability to use deepfakes to gain an unfair legal advantage.

Despite the significant advances in deepfake technology in recent years, a “deepfake Armageddon” is not on the horizon of the legal industry. Continue reading below to learn what you need to know about deepfakes and their effect on the legal industry. 

What Are “Deepfakes?”

A deepfake is a doctored video or audio media. The technology uses machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to manipulate genuine audio and visual data into artificial media. For example, deepfake technology can be used to take existing audio or visual footage of a person to create a video of that person saying nearly any message with an uncanny level of realism. 

Current deepfake technology relies on two pillars. First: a sufficient amount of existing audio and/or visual recordings as input data. These can come in the form of family home videos, recorded speeches, pictures. Second: technical savvy. Though the barrier to entry to deepfake technology is decreasing, it has not reached a “copy-paste” level of simplicity yet. 

Deepfakes and Legal Matters

The deepfake nightmare scenario among practitioners in the legal industry is that the technology will achieve a level of realism that makes the doctored media indistinguishable from genuine media. For example, a party submitting a deepfake as evidence that incriminates an opponent. There have already been such instances of deepfakes being offered to courts across the United States.

Fortunately, such scenarios do not yet spell disaster for the legitimacy of our courts. A few factors make the likelihood of a deepfake being improperly submitted in your legal matter very unlikely. First, convincing deepfakes require a high level of technical sophistication. The level of technology needed to create a truly real looking deepfake takes more time and more money than most can afford. Additionally, convincing deepfakes require a significant amount of source media. Deepfakes are only as good as the original media, and the more media the better. For this reason, the current deepfakes have been limited to those individuals for whom ample amounts of media already exist, such as politicians and celebrities. Finally, current deepfake technology often leaves behind digital fingerprints that digital forensics experts can easily spot. 

Conclusion

Though the future of deepfakes is something that legal industry practitioners must keep an eye on, the current level of deepfake technology is not something the vast majority of people with legal matters need to worry about. The strongest legal positions are often gained through a lawyer’s use of all available resources, including technology. Kirker Davis, LLP has been a pioneer of legal technology that benefits their clients. If you are interested in working with a law firm that knows how to use technology in your favor, please contact us today!

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