As the 2024 election approaches, the Biden administration grapples with a challenging dilemma: how to address the anticipated surge of deepfakes and election disinformation without appearing partisan.

Current and former officials reveal that there are no concrete plans to alert the public about false information unless it is definitively linked to foreign actors and poses a significant threat.

Cybersecurity experts, both within and outside the government, warn of an impending wave of disinformation designed to disrupt the election.

However, officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security expressed concerns about the potential backlash. They fear that any intervention could be perceived as an attempt to sway the election in favor of President Biden’s re-election campaign.

Election disinformation

Calls for a more proactive stance have come from both sides of the aisle. At a recent hearing, Senator Angus King of Maine urged cybersecurity and intelligence officials to act decisively. “I’m worried that you may be overly concerned with appearing partisan and that that will freeze you in terms of taking the necessary actions,” King stated.

Echoing this concern, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida questioned the government’s preparedness to handle deepfake scenarios. “If this happens, who’s in charge of responding to it?” Rubio asked. “Have we thought through the process of what do we do when one of these scenarios occurs?”

A senior U.S. official familiar with the internal discussions disclosed that the FBI is particularly hesitant to address disinformation originating domestically.

While the FBI is prepared to investigate potential election law violations, it feels ill-equipped to publicly counteract disinformation or deepfakes created by Americans. “The FBI is not in the truth detection business,” the official commented.

FBI: Ill-equipped to fight deepfakes?

The FBI acknowledged the complexities of investigating such cases and noted that immediate public identification of falsehoods is unlikely. “The FBI can and does investigate allegations of Americans spreading disinformation that is intended to deny or undermine someone’s ability to vote,” the statement read, emphasizing the need for thorough investigative steps.

The FBI pledged to collaborate with state and local election officials to share information in real time. However, given that elections are managed at the state level, the bureau would defer to state officials regarding immediate responses to disinformation.

As the election season heats up, the administration’s approach to disinformation remains a critical and contentious issue, with the balance between proactive intervention and perceived partisanship hanging in the balance.

Source: The Biden admin has no firm plan to call out domestic disinformation in the 2024 election

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