Fake videos not threat to courtroom evidence

July 2019 Security Services & Risk Management

Who should fear ‘Deep Fake’ video technology? Certainly not the courts.

The Washington Post recently reported top AI researchers are “racing to defuse an extraordinary political weapon: computer-generated fake videos that could undermine candidates and mislead voters during the 2020 presidential campaign. And they have a message: We’re not ready.”

However, forensic video analysts, who are in the business of detecting fake videos and images for criminal and civil courts, believe the fear that ‘Deep Fakes’ will be weaponised as evidence is a forensic fantasy.

Grant Fredericks
Grant Fredericks

“The media is pushing the topic as if the sky is falling,” explained Grant Fredericks, president of Forensic Video Solutions, and a pioneer in the field. “I certainly appreciate the potential for misinformation ala Russian interference – and I’m sure it will be pretty ubiquitous during this next election cycle – but the fabrications will all be obvious. It is my belief that ‘Deep Fakes’ pose no threat in civil and criminal court cases at this time.”

Fredericks said faked videos are not likely to be successfully snuck into traditional forensic video analysis for law enforcement. “All evidence has to be authenticated before it would be admissible,” he said. “A faked video is easily detected by a trained analyst.”

The Law Enforcement & Emergency Services Video Association (LEVA) has conducted video forensics training around the world since 1999. More than 4300 technicians and analysts have been attended its classes, and hundreds are certified by LEVA in the scientific discipline. Video authentication is a critical element of the advanced courses.

Experts like Fredericks, who is one of the principal architects of LEVA’s training and certification programmes, agree that faked video cannot be authenticated and, therefore, can be easily dismissed. They are easily discoverable, especially with the advanced video analysis tools available to practitioners today.

Authentication requires a significant amount of known information. The affiant of the evidence must establish its lineage which identifies who created it, when it was created, and with what technology. “If you can’t answer those questions with supportive evidence,” Fredericks added, “the video would never be admitted in court.”

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