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The impact of deepfakes on jury trials

| Jul 17, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

People in Ohio who have served as jurors on criminal cases may be familiar with the “CSI effect,” which refers to jurors having a heightened expectation for forensic evidence based on what they are used to seeing on T.V. Now, some prosecutors fear that jurors will become more skeptical of evidence in light of improved methods of faking things like video and audio recordings.

Deepfakes, which refer to AI-generated synthetic videos, text, and audio, are falsified evidence that are used to make it seem as though a person said or did something they did not actually say or do, usually something damaging. For example, there have been accusations of people manipulating audio recordings of politicians in order to incriminate them.

In any trial, there are rules of evidence that attorneys must follow to authenticate evidence before it can be admitted and shown to a jury. However, these methods may not be enough to establish whether a recording or a text message is real or fake, particularly if the person who has the capacity to authenticate the document is the one who doctored it. Prosecutors think that jurors may start to disregard evidence that has been properly authenticated because they suspect it may be fake.

Though suspicions that a witness may have doctored evidence could be unfounded, they may lead to the implementation of better methods of proving that recordings are authentic. One way to improve the chances of detecting deepfakes is to stamp a digital signature on a recording, which can be done using a digital inspection platform. This platform could be used for anything from surveillance videos to police body cameras.

Though the odds of someone creating a deep fake are relatively low, there are other ways that police or prosecutors can doctor evidence. Even when evidence is legitimate, it must still follow a certain chain of custody and be authenticated at every stage. A criminal defense attorney might try to suppress evidence that appears to be unsubstantiated.