Tackling Deepfakes in the new AI Legislative Framework

Project description

The term “deepfake” is a combination of the terms “deep learning” and “fake” and refers to seemingly realistic media content (photo, audio, and video) which is altered and/or falsified by artificial intelligence techniques. The manipulation of media is not a new phenomenon in itself, but deepfakes use methods of machine learning and artificial neural networks to create fakes largely autonomously. Furthermore, easy-to-use and inexpensive software and apps support the spread of such products and services. In addition, the increasingly visual-based media consumption and the digital penetration of everyday life are leading to an intensification of this new phenomenon.

While there are certainly useful applications of deepfakes in the fields of education, art, and medicine, there are a number of risks, especially in the field of public opinion formation: These are not only on the individual level, but can also have an impact on society as a whole due to the potential disinformation and influence on democratic processes.

The project will conduct a literature review and expert interviews to examine deepfake techniques, future application scenarios, and their economic, social, ethical, and legal implications. Based on the results, it will then develop a set of policy options that are relevant to the committees of the European Parliament, including the new Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age (AIDA), and relate to the current activities of the European Commission. In its White Paper, the European Commission has presented a framework for a future legislative proposal to tackle the risks posed by artificial intelligence.

Based on expert interviews with relevant stakeholders from academia, NGOs, and companies, the ITAS team will focus on the social, ethical, and legal aspects of deepfake technologies. It will analyze impacts on individuals, on important sectors and areas such as social media, but also consequences for society as a whole in terms of erosion of trust in information. In addition, ITAS will address the social and ethical dimensions of deepfakes and related policy options.

The results of this project will also feed into another project of the University of Graz in cooperation with ITAS: “How disinformation is shaking up democracy”. The project aims to communicate which strategies the EU is pursuing against fake news and disinformation and what we can all do against the spread of false news. In addition, a discussion forum with citizens from Graz and Karlsruhe will be offered.


Nierling, L.
Deepfakes in the context of digital disinformation – actors, risks and a case for AI-regulation in Europe
2022. Flame-University, Centre for Economics and Public Policy (2022), Pune, India, March 14, 2022 
Huijstee, M. van; Boheemen, P. van; Das, D.; Nierling, L.; Jahnel, J.; Karaboga, M.; Fatun, M.
Tackling deepfakes in European policy
2021. European Parliament Think Tank 
Jahnel, J.
Herausforderungen bei der Regulierung von Deepfakes
2021. Fachkonferenz „Vertrauen im Zeitalter KI-gestützter Bots und Fakes: Herausforderungen und mögliche Lösungen“ (2021), Online, November 4, 2021 
Nierling, L.; Jahnel, J.; Heil, R.
Deepfakes im Kontext digitaler Desinformation – Akteure, Folgen und Handlungsoptionen
2021. Künstliche Intelligenz und Governance (2021), Online, November 4–5, 2021 


Dr. Jutta Jahnel
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-26133