News Room

The Next Phase of Identity Theft: Stealing Your Likeness

Written on behalf of Brian S. Kabateck

March 30, 2018

Video plays a unique role in our legal system, possibly more important than at any time in history. Witness testimony can be picked apart, photos can be photoshopped, but video provides attorneys very clear evidence in a civil or criminal matter…but all that may change.

Currently deemed the “infocalypse,“ a new type of identity theft has sprung up which may seriously impact how video is viewed and used in legal matters. These types of videos are called “Deep Fakes” and they involve a type of technology that can mimic a person speaking so effectively that it is incredibly difficult to tell the difference between the real and the fake. This poses numerous problems, from what will and won’t be allowed in as evidence as well as online identity theft. As one outlet put it, “Fueled by artificial intelligence, digital impersonation is on the rise.”

This technology has already been used to make adult films “starring” celebrities who have never engaged in this type of activity. However, the next phase saw videos of President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama giving speeches with either the location altered or some other major change. This is a truly dangerous new technology that could create an international crisis or cause someone to give a stranger money because they get a video request that looks all too real. Theoretically, a software developer would only need a high-resolution image of one individual to create havoc for the subject.

Aviv Ovadya, the same individual who recognized the danger Facebook and fake news might play in the 2016 presidential election spotted this potential nightmare as well saying that anyone could make it “appear as if anything has happened, regardless of whether or not it did.”

The impact on the average consumer is incredible. If a consumer thinks he or she is watching their favorite celebrity promote a product, it could be a total fake. If the child of an elderly parent thinks they’ve gotten an urgent video message from their dying relative who needs money quickly, it could be a hoax. The role video plays in our culture will change radically and lead to a slew of lawsuits and potentially a complete distrust of any digital creation. While people are awed when deceased actors are revived in Star Wars, that same technology is now making online trust nearly impossible.

Undoubtedly, Congress and state legislatures will be called upon to create some guidelines and possibly even outlaw this technology for a time in order to protect against identity theft. Consumers must be protected from a technology that can recreate a very believable image. If you have any high-resolution images of yourself online, it might be smart to remove those as thieves currently need those in order to create a fake likeness.

How this will be handled and how it will impact the world remains to be seen, but the experts are warning everyone to be highly cautious.

Consumer protection laws are designed to ensure the rights of vulnerable consumers in society. The laws are a form of government directive intended to protect the rights of consumers.

Among some of these protection laws are the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Truth in Lending Act, Fair Credit Billing Act, the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Business and Professions Code 17200.

Our firm is committed to standing up to big businesses that engage in fraud or unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors. This includes protecting the public from false or misleading advertising in situations like “bait and switch” advertising tactics, warranty misrepresentation, defective products, forced arbitration clauses and identity theft. Class action lawsuits can provide recourse for consumers whose rights have been violated by companies that engage in abusive business practices.

If you believe you and many others like you have been somehow injured, cheated, or otherwise harmed by unfair business practices, give us a call and let us help you protect your rights. At Kabateck LLP, we can help you explore all of your options and ultimately achieve for you the maximum compensation for your harm.