Politics

Foreigners Are Trying to Spread Lies in ’24, ‘Need More Than Voluntary Guidelines’ for Some of It

On Wednesday’s broadcast of CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said he is concerned about foreign election interference in the form of cyberattacks, spreading conspiracy theories, setting up fake events to incite violence or hiring people to show up at rallies, and using AI-generated deepfakes and criticized tech companies for not following through on promises to take down deepfake ads before stating, “in some of these areas, we’re going to need more than voluntary guidelines.”

Warner began by saying there have always been foreign efforts to influence elections, “even before you get to AI, in 2016, we saw a massive organized effort, cyberattacks, attempts to try to pit Americans against Americans, mostly driven by Russia. Candidly, in 2020, I think we had the A team in place in terms of the national security issues. We kept it down. I’m worried in 2024 for three reasons why our elections could be insecure: One, a lot of other nations other than Russia —  China, Iran, others — realize it’s really cheap to try to interfere in an election. Second, Joe, as you know and I know, there [are] a lot of Americans who…much easier believe crazy conspiracy theories coming over the Internet. And third, as you mentioned. AI tools now can launch deepfakes of your face or my face or our voices or, it doesn’t even have to be the politician, it could be somebody that appears to be a judge tearing up ballots. They can — those AI tools can launch at speed and scale that I’m just not sure we’re ready for.”

Co-host Joe Kernen then quipped that the two major presidential candidates both say things that aren’t all that much different than what a deepfake would have them say.

Warner responded, “I guess what I would say is, we’ve got enough disagreement between Americans, the last thing we need is a foreign government or a foreign spy service trying to exacerbate that. And frankly, remember, in 2016, what the Russians did, they tried to create literally physical violence. They created this fake event pro-Muslim, anti-Muslim in Texas. People showed up. We’ve got Russian groups, for example, trying to unknowingly hire people to show up at rallies. This is a serious issue. We’ve got plenty of divisions amongst ourselves. Let’s fight it out civilly amongst ourselves, not have foreign governments intervene, and we just need to do a better job of educating. This isn’t just an American phenomenon. We [had] 20 technology companies in February in Munich say, hey, we’re going to take down content-altered, deepfake political ads. They promised all this. I’ve not seen any action like that. We’ve got the European elections in June. This is why I think, in some of these areas, we’re going to need more than voluntary guidelines.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett



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