The revenge of PGP

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Posted by: stak
Posted on: 2022-02-17 12:19:43

I recently read "Termination Shock" by Neal Stephenson. Good book for sure, although I prefer some of his other works.

There was a bit in the book that involved deepfake videos which I thought was interesting. Making a deepfake video of some authority figure (government, etc.) and spreading it as misinformation seems like a pretty bad thing, but it's also something that can be defended against. All you have to do is have authentic videos include a public-key signature that can't be faked. So e.g. the US government could have a published public key, and any official communications would be signed by the corresponding private key. Media distribution platforms could then verify the signature to authenticate that it hasn't been faked or modified.

In fact, this would be good even without the threat of deepfakes, because the signature would apply to the entire video rather than a soundbite/clip of it, and so if you extracted and shared a clip, the clip would not be verifiable. This is good because extracting a clip often loses important context and is not representative of the "whole truth". Sharing this kind of out-of-context information is in some cases equivalent to sharing blatant misinformation. Organizations that create the original video could still create shorter "approved" clips and sign them for sharing if they desire.

Same applies to any kind of digital document, really. That's why people do it for email!

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