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DOJ pushes back against release of Biden-Hur audio, citing 'deepfake' concerns

The Department of Justice (DOJ) pushed back against the release of audio recordings of President Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur, citing concerns that “deep fakes” could emerge.

DOJ argued, in a Friday night filing, that if the audio were released, it could end up being altered and passed off as an “authentic” recording which would be shared widely. 

“The passage of time and advancements in audio, artificial intelligence, and ‘deep fake’ technologies only amplify concerns about malicious manipulation of audio files,” according to the filing, first obtained by Politico. 

“To be sure, other raw material to create a deepfake of President Biden’s voice is already available, but release of the audio recording presents unique risks: if it were public knowledge that the audio recording has been released, it becomes easier for malicious actors to pass off an altered file as the true recording,” the administration added in the 49-page filing. 

DOJ officials also said the release of the audio “would harm substantial privacy interests.” 

Their argument comes after Biden invoked executive privilege earlier this month to prevent House Republicans from obtaining the recordings of his interview with Hur, who oversaw the investigation into classified documents found in Biden’s private residence and former vice presidential office. A transcript of the interview was released to GOP House members before Hur’s public testimony in March. 

The Biden administration’s concerns about AI-generated deep fakes, comes as officials, experts and observers have cautioned about the dangers they could inflict on the upcoming election. In the filing, DOJ noted that no new information would be uncovered through the recordings, since the transcript is already out, and further pressed that releasing the tapes would hamper future probes. 

House Republicans and other outside groups that support the GOP’s effort to obtain the audio argue that it would aid them in their impeachment inquiry against Biden.

While Hur’s 388-page report on Biden found that the then-vice president willfully retained the documents after leaving the White House, he stopped short of bringing charges against the president. Instead, he described Biden as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

The House Judiciary and Oversight committees passed resolutions to censure Attorney General Merrick Garland earlier this month. Still, Republicans are unsure if they have enough votes to hold him in contempt due to their razor-thin majority in the lower chamber.

Bradley Weinsheimer, associate deputy attorney general at the department, filed an affidavit, stating that “malicious actors” could spread a deep fake version of the recording if the tape is released publicly. Weinsheimer also claimed that those “actors” could insert or remove words from Biden’s responses to Hur, twisting the meaning of the president’s remarks.

The pushback also comes less than 6 months after a digitally altered message created to sound like Biden urged voters in New Hampshire to skip out on voting in the primary. The political consultant who took responsibility for the call was indicted last week.

The Hill has reached out to DOJ for comment.

Source: The Hill

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