An Observatory Report from the Europol Innovation Lab
Today, threat actors are using disinformation campaigns and deepfake content to misinform the public about events, to influence politics and elections, to contribute to fraud, and to manipulate shareholders in a corporate context. Many organisations have now begun to see deepfakes as an even bigger potential risk than identity theft (for which deepfakes can also be used), especially now that most interactions have moved online since the COVID-19 pandemic. This concern is echoed by a recent report by University
College London (UCL) that ranks deepfake technology as one of the biggest threats faced by society today.1
This poses a risk to EU citizens. Europol, as the criminal information hub for law enforcement organisations, will continue to play its part in supporting law enforcement authorities in the EU Member States to counter this threat.
This report presents the first published analysis of the Europol Innovation Lab’s Observatory function, focusing on deepfakes, the technology behind them and their potential impact on law enforcement and EU citizens. Deepfake technology uses Artificial Intelligence to audio and audio-visual content. Deepfake technology can produce content that convincingly shows people saying or doing things they never did, or create personas that never existed in the first place.
To date, the Europol Innovation Lab has organised three strategic foresight activities with EU Member State law enforcement agencies and other experts. During strategic foresight activities conducted by the Europol Innovation Lab, over 80 law enforcement experts identified and analysed the trends and technologies they believed would impact their work until 2030. These sessions showed that one of the most worrying technological trends is the evolution and detection of deepfakes, as well as the need to address disinformation more generally. The findings in this report are the result of extensive desk research supported by research provided by partner organisations, expert consultation, and the strategic
Those workshops provided the initial input for this report. Furthermore, the findings are the result of extensive desk research supported by research provided by partner organisations, expert consultation and the strategic foresight activities conducted by the Europol Innovation Lab.
Strategic foresight and scenario methods offer a way to understand and prepare for the potential impact of new technologies on law enforcement. The Europol Innovation Lab’s Observatory function monitors technological developments that are relevant for law enforcement and reports on the risks, threats and opportunities of these emerging technologies.