Former Justice Secretary Sir Robert Buckland and former Justice Secretary Richard Thornton have expressed concern about the potential disruption deepfakes could cause in the next general election. Buckland is calling on the UK government to take stronger action against this threat to British democracy [4], emphasizing the need for legislative action and technological countermeasures [3].


The government has responded to these concerns by launching a Defending Democracy Taskforce to protect elections from foreign interference. Buckland is advocating for increased monitoring of misinformation by regulator Ofcom and clearer guidance for social media firms to comply with national security laws [2]. The National Cyber Security Centre has warned about the use of AI tools to create convincing deepfakes [1], and incidents involving deepfakes have already affected the Labour Party and London Mayor Sadiq Khan. The government is working with social media companies and international allies to combat the rise of deepfakes. Recent incidents [5], such as a faked audio of Sadiq Khan and a fake video audio clip of Keir Starmer [5], have highlighted the need for regulation [5]. The UK government acknowledges the severity of digitally manipulated content and is working to swiftly respond to threats through its Defending Democracy Taskforce and Online Safety Act [5]. Science Secretary Michelle Donelan has assured MPs that the government is taking the AI threat seriously and is collaborating with social media companies and international allies to address it [2]. Some argue that deepfakes are not the only threat to democracy [1], as AI could be used for other forms of election interference [1], raising concerns about the spread of misinformation and the erosion of trust in the political process [1]. Fact checkers and media play a crucial role in preventing the viral spread of deepfakes [6]. The director general of MI5 warns of the risks posed by AI’s utilization in creating compelling “spearphishing” emails [6]. The flooded social media environment with synthetic content could lead to voters struggling to discern reality [6], potentially exploited by unscrupulous politicians [6]. The media [4] [6], tech giants [4] [6], security services [4] [6], and political parties all face the challenge of this evolving landscape as the next general election approaches [6]. The UK government is reportedly exploring legislative measures to address the threat [3], with a focus on responsible development and deployment of AI technologies [3]. The ease with which deepfakes can analyze and synthesize personal data raises concerns about privacy and identity theft [3].


Overall, a proactive and collaborative approach is needed to protect UK democracy from the corrosive effects of AI-driven disinformation [3]. The impacts of deepfakes on elections and the political process are significant, and the government’s efforts to combat this threat through the Defending Democracy Taskforce and Online Safety Act are commendable. However, there is a need for continued vigilance and adaptation as AI technology evolves and new challenges arise. The responsible development and deployment of AI technologies [3], along with increased regulation and cooperation between stakeholders, will be crucial in safeguarding the integrity of future elections and preserving trust in the democratic process.