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Deepflakes and the Law

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Internet Defamation |

Whether you’re a fan or not, artificial intelligence (AI) use continues to expand. This means that the use of “deepfake” technology is also a growing trend. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “deepfake” refers to synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness using AI technology. In essence, a deepfake is an AI-created digital fabrication.

Unfortunately, deepfakes are very realistic, making it difficult for viewers to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not. They have led to impersonation, fraud, blackmail, as well as the spread of misinformation and propaganda on the internet.

How Deepfakes are Created 

AI is at the heart of deepfake technology. Specifically, a subset of machine learning called “deep learning” is used to create deepfakes (hence the name). This involves superimposing existing images and videos onto source images or videos using a deep learning technique.

Deepfakes are created using a large amount of data, which often includes photos, soundbites, or videos. Because a greater amount of data allows for more convincing deepfakes, celebrities, politicians, and other public figures are the most common targets. Even more problematic, there are now apps and online services where users can create deepfakes with minimal knowledge of the technology behind it.

Deepfakes and Legal Concerns

It probably comes as no surprise that deepfakes can pose a variety of legal concerns, some of which are highlighted below. The problem is that current laws need to catch up with this rapidly changing and ever-growing technology.


Because deepfakes are so realistic, they present new challenges to existing privacy laws. Current privacy laws simply don’t have the framework to address such advanced technological manipulations. Though privacy laws vary from state to state, many jurisdictions require consent for an individual’s likeness or personal data to be used by others. However, enforcing privacy laws with anonymously created deepfakes is already proving to be challenging.


Deepfakes using an individual’s likeness may lead to significant damage to their reputation as well as considerable emotional distress. If the deepfake falsely represents an individual in a defamatory manner, defamation law may offer some help. However, first the victim will have to prove that the deepfake content is false, which may not be easy.


Cybercrime laws may provide some legal recourse for deepfakes, especially if they involve hacking or unauthorized access of personal data. If deepfakes are used to harass or stalk individuals, existing laws in this realm may also provide some legal recourse.


Laws against non-consensual pornography can be applied to deepfakes if explicit media was created without the subject’s consent. But again, enforcing laws such as these can be complicated by jurisdictional issues, as well as the anonymity of online content distribution.

In Summary

Unfortunately, the current legal system was not created with AI and deepfake technology in mind. Because of this, significant legal gaps exist, which allow people to be targeted by this technology and sometimes unable to seek legal action against the person who created the deepfake.

As courts worldwide begin to deal with deepfake cases, developing legal precedents and new case law will be vital. This will be the only way to help deepfake victims, whether they’re well-known or not, navigate these uncharted waters.