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Europol: Organized Crime Looks To Deepfakes

May 4, 2022

Recent advancements in artificial intelligence means deepfake detection and prevention must be top law enforcement priority

The Europol Innovation Lab has published its first report under its Observatory function, entitled ‘Facing Reality? Law enforcement and the challenge of deepfakes’. The report, which draws its conclusions based on extensive desk research and in-depth consultation with law enforcement experts, provides a detailed overview of the criminal use of deepfake technology, alongside the challenges faced by law enforcement in detecting and preventing the nefarious use of deepfakes.

The report includes several contemporary examples showing deepfakes’ potential use in serious crimes such as: CEO fraud, evidence tampering, and the production of non-consensual pornography. Advances in artificial intelligence and the public availability of large image and video databases mean that the volume and quality of deepfake content is increasing, which is facilitating the proliferation of crimes that harness deepfake technology. Law enforcement agencies therefore need to be aware of deepfakes and their impact on future police work.

Recommendations for tackling criminal uses of deepfakes

Much of the deepfake content created today is identifiable through manual methods that rely on human analysts identifying telltale signs in deepfake images and videos. However, this is a labour intensive task that is not actionable at scale. Accordingly, the report argues that law enforcement agencies will need to enhance the skills and technologies at officers’ disposal if they are to keep pace with criminal use of deepfakes. Examples of such new capacities range from the deployment of technical and organisational safeguards against video tampering to the creation of deepfake detection software that uses artificial intelligence.

Contributing to this report, law enforcement practitioners helped identify a series of challenges that they will have to contend within the decade ahead. In particular, they identified risks associated with digital transformation, the adoption and deployment of new technologies, the abuse of emerging technology by criminals, accommodating new ways of working and maintaining trust in the face of an increase of disinformation. The findings of this report are based on extensive desk research and in-depth consultation with law enforcement experts through strategic foresight activities. These strategic foresight and scenario methods are one means by which the Europol Innovation Lab researches and prepares for the potential impact of new technologies on law enforcement.

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