At a glance.
- US Senate passes deepfake research authorization.
- CIA selects vendors for secure cloud contract.
- Germany works out 5G rules with security in mind.
US Senate authorizes deepfake research.
The Cyber Security News reports the US Senate unanimously passed a bill that would tell the NSF and NIST to sponsor research on generative adversarial networks (GANs), systems prepared with real inputs to produce inauthentic outputs. The Identifying Outputs of Generative Adversarial Networks (IOGAN) Act would cost the agencies $6 million over the next five years—“subject to the availability of appropriated funds” — according to a Congressional Budget Office document.
NSF would be tasked with awarding competitive grants on “manipulated digital content and information authenticity” (research it already sponsors) in coordination with DARPA and IARPA. NIST would likely need to hire ten people to set up research into “measurements and standards for the development of technological tools that examine” deepfake tech. Both agencies were also directed to look into public-private partnerships. The next stop for the bill is the House of Representatives, which passed a “nearly identical” bill last year, as noted by Biometric Update.
For the curious, NSF’s mandate specifically covers the following:
- Tools for detecting inauthenticity and confirming authenticity.
- Behavioral studies of interactions with manipulated media.
- Effective methods of public education.
We also heard from some industry experts on the prospects of the research. Yossi Zekri, President and CEO at Acuant, said, "This legislation is vital to defend against growing threats that engage deepfake technology. While several instances of these attacks have gone viral, there is real damage being done on a much broader scale as well when it comes to financial transactions and fraudsters using this tech to subvert identity verification. It is imperative that both governments and businesses take measures to defeat bad actors via legislation and by employing technology that uses advanced AI that can prevent this fraud."
Josh Bohls, Founder of Inkscreen, wrote, "This new legislation is a welcome start to addressing the deepfake media problem. We need a coordinated and funded national effort to develop policies and technical counter tactics to deal with the pending flood of disinformation content. Inexpensive or free tools already exist to generate synthetic videos that are as good or better than what big Hollywood studios could create with massive resources. I applaud Senator Cortez Mastro for spearheading this bill and am optimistic that NIST and NSF will be up to the task."
CIA selects vendors for cloud contract rumored to be worth billions.
Washington Business Journal says CIA has awarded Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle undisclosed funds under the Intelligence Community (IC) Commercial Cloud Enterprise (C2E) Cloud Service Provider indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. The initiative will deliver cloud platform, infrastructure, and software services to the seventeen Federal intelligence agencies at all levels of classification. A yet to be granted portion of the fifteen-year contract will cover multi-cloud integration services to facilitate a cohesive platform for AI technologies and other tools.
CIA awarded Amazon Web Services a cloud contract in 2013 that runs another three years, and as Nextgov explains, the nextgen contract, which asks firms to “compete for specific task orders,” serves to diversify providers in the wake of the Pentagon’s legal struggles with single-provider contracts.
Germany figures out how to figure out 5G rules.
The latest draft of Munich’s IT Security Law would require a government committee to “reach a consensus” about a telecom firm’s threat to national security before barring it from 5G, Reuters reports. The legislation would at last settle on a political lever for making such determinations.
Huawei’s domestic fate is at stake. German Chancellor Merkel prefers tight economic ties with Beijing; the Social Democratic Party generally does not, and had advocated for veto powers. The committee would be composed of Chancellery and economy, foreign, and interior ministry officials. If they can’t agree, ministers would take a whack at it before referring the matter to a formal resolution process.
Reuters characterizes the development as a “tactical victory for Huawei” (and for the budgets of German companies that currently rely on Huawei tech), since the law would necessitate “overwhelming political conviction” to ban the company. The legislation could be decided next month, or this media leak could hamper talks, as happened before.