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Case update 07 June 2024

Crown Prosecution Service confirms political deepfakes could be prosecuted

Disinformation could distort this general election. It’s time to take action on the AI-generated clips that pollute our politics.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has welcomed our intervention (PDF) on political deepfakes and confirmed they’re both subject to criminal law and could result in prosecutions. While the CPS doesn’t think it’s currently necessary to update its guidance, it says the guidance is kept under review and promises to reflect on the points we made.

This week, Wes Streeting said he was the victim of a deepfake when someone doctored a clip of his appearance on Politics Live. But the police have yet to take any action on political deepfakes. The fact that there hasn’t been a single prosecution is failing voters, by letting offenders off the hook and leaving the door wide open for interference in this campaign. 

The Representation of the People Act 1983 says that anyone who “makes or publishes any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct” before or during an election for the purpose of influencing its outcome “shall be guilty of an illegal practice”. And the Online Safety Act 2023 creates a new criminal offence of sending a message intended “to cause non-trivial psychological or physical harm to a likely audience”. Our legal advice argues that political deepfakes come under both of these provisions.

Call for action against political deepfakesAdd your name

It’s time for the CPS to apply the law and stop disinformation skewing this election. 

In our fractured media environment, it’s easy for political deepfakes to fly under the radar. If you spot one, help us safeguard democracy by letting us know on legal@goodlawproject.org