Seeing the Round Corners

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October 8, 2019


Before we continue with Deep Fakes:  A Looming Challenge for Privacy, Democracy and National Security, (Bobby Chesney and Danielle Citron), a response from Dr. Herb Lin, who received his doctorate of physics from MIT, may be of interest. Lin is a senior research scholar for cyber policy and security at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and Hank J. Holland Fellow in Cyber Policy and Security at the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford University.

Lin’s response make’s no mention of the Wall Street Journal’s work described beginning with Part IV of this series, so today’s column is based on his unawareness of it.

Lin noted the present “infeasibility of technology that can distinguish between fake and real videos and audios” described by Chesney and Citron, and agreed with their assessment that “it will be a long time if ever, before such technology is possible.  (Chesney, Citron and Lin seem unaware of the Wall Street Journal’s work on identifying fake news and deep fake videos.)

The technology of digital signatures is one solution to distinguishing between fake and real videos and audios, according to Lin.  Digital signatures “enable a party to sign a digital object in such a way that proves he or she was the one who signed it.”

Such technology would have a vendor producing cameras and recorders that digitally sign every video or audio file the user creates, and maintaining records so that the purchaser of any given device is known in the future. The device and its public signature key is registered in a database accessible to anyone. Lin maintains that any video or audio file released in the future, accompanied by a digital signature could then be associated with a specific purchaser.”

While such a digital signature scheme cannot be 100 percent secure, viewers could trust a given video or audio clip, if and only if signed, had been actually recorded on a specific device by the owner – certainly more trustworthy than a video that was NOT accompanied by a signature that could be traced to a registered device.

Lin explains how both Canon and Nikon have implemented the idea explained above only for both to have the implementation cracked by a “well-known Russian company.”

In the coming weeks, a wrap up of the fake news and deep fakes video  and what Chisney/Citron believe can be done to lessen the harms, technological solutions, criminal and civil liability, as well as Professor Citron’s testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence earlier this year.

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