Dutch politicians were tricked by a deepfake video chat

The incident highlights the very real dangers of AI-based impostors.

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Chief of Staff of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Leonid Volkov speaks during an interview with AFP, in Vilnius on March 2, 2021. - Volkov, top aide of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny called for sanctions on top Russian oligarchs in an interview with AFP, as the United States followed the EU in imposing sanctions on some officials. (Photo by PETRAS MALUKAS / AFP) (Photo by PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP via Getty Images)
PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP via Getty Images

Netherlands politicians just got a first-hand lesson about the dangers of deepfake videos. According to NL Times and De Volkskrant, the Dutch parliament's foreign affairs committee was fooled into holding a video call with someone using deepfake tech to impersonate Leonid Volkov (above), Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's chief of staff.

The perpetrator hasn't been named, but this wouldn't be the first incident. The same impostor had conversations with Latvian and Ukranian politicians, and approached political figures in Estonia, Lithuania and the UK.

The country's House of Representatives said in a statement that it was "indignant" about the deepfake chat and was looking into ways it could prevent such incidents going forward.

There doesn't appear to have been any lasting damage from the bogus video call. However, it does illustrate the potential damage from deepfake chats with politicians. A prankster could embarrass officials, while a state-backed actor could trick governments into making bad policy decisions and ostracizing their allies. Strict screening processes might be necessary to spot deepfakes and ensure that every participant is real.

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