Preserving Anonymity: Deep-Fake as an Identity-Protection Device and as a Digital Camouflage

International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 37 (3):729-751 (2024)
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Abstract

This paper aims to explore an overlooked aspect of deep-fake technology, specifically its application as a protective tool for concealing the identities of targeted individuals or whistleblowers. Since its emergence in 2017, deep-fakes have been intertwined with various sociotechnical imaginaries. Traditionally, deep-fake technology has been portrayed as a potential threat to privacy and a weapon for disseminating false information, evident from its definitions which emphasize its deceptive nature and malicious use. Moreover, the origins of deepfakes, such as the creation and online distribution of altered pornographic material with harmful intentions, further reinforce this perception. As a result of blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction, truth and falsehood, these synthetic media forms not only pose a risk of disinformation and deception but also offer unexplored avenues for creative expression. Thus, this study examines deep-fake technology as a form of ‘digital camouflage’ by analyzing its usage in David France’s documentary film _Welcome to Chechnya_ (2020). The argument presented in this paper suggests that this illustration challenges the dominant narrative surrounding deep-fakes and highlights an ethical and potentially positive application of this technology.

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