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New tools to distinguish genuine videos from ‘deepfakes’ in development ahead of the 2020 general elections. Facial recognition software developed at Duke University linked to Chinese government’s surveillance programs. Bitter dispute over citizenship question in 2020 census continues, with the House Oversight and Reform Committee recommending that two Cabinet secretaries be held in contempt of Congress. British government signs U.S. extradition order for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who faces 18 indictments, including charges under the Espionage Act. (Find out more about the implications for press freedom.) Russian authorities arrest hundreds of peaceful protesters standing in solidarity with investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, recently detained and released. (See PEN America’s statement on this latest development.) -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today


The Fight to Stay Ahead of Deepfake Videos before the 2020 U.S. Election
One professor is building tools to detect faked videos of major political figures, as well as the U.S. presidential candidates. It could help fight off the next generation of misinformation, where artificial intelligence is likely to play an increasingly prominent role in engineering deceptive media.

A Duke Study Recorded Thousands of Students’ Faces. Now They’re Being Used All over the World
“The data set [from Duke] was especially popular in China, where it was used by private companies and military academies to test their own facial recognition technology. China has used artificial intelligence to monitor and oppress minority ethnic groups, most notably the Muslim Uyghur population.”

House Panel Votes for Contempt for Barr, Ross as Justice Dept. Holds Back Documents
The standoff between Congress and the executive branch deepened over a dispute about access to materials involving the citizenship question planned for the 2020 census. Critics argue that the Trump administration wants to use a question about citizenship to suppress some responses, including those of Latinos.

Sajid Javid Signs U.S. Extradition Order for Julian Assange
Home secretary Sajid Javid signed a request for Julian Assange to be extradited to the United States. Assange faces an 18-count indictment that includes charges under the Espionage Act, and is accused of soliciting and publishing classified information and conspiring to hack into a government computer.


Russian Police Arrest Hundreds Marching against Journalist’s Detention on ‘Fabricated’ Charges
A peaceful march in support of Ivan Golunov, a prominent Russian investigative journalist who was controversially arrested last week on drug charges and beaten in custody, has ended with mass arrests by Russian police. The march went ahead in spite of the fact that Golunov was unexpectedly released on Tuesday.

Journalists Beaten, Arrested in Northern Indian State
Two policemen were suspended on Wednesday for beating a TV journalist and damaging his equipment after he reported on unlicensed vendors at a railroad station in northern India, a state government official said. It was the third incident involving journalists in Uttar Pradesh state in the past week.

Saudi Wife and Activist Works from Afar to Make Sure Her Imprisoned Husband Is Not Forgotten
After a half dozen of her fellow activists were arrested in May 2018, Malak “Angel” Al-Sheri fled to the United States. Her husband stayed behind, and in April he was one of a dozen men swept up and put in prison. In the U.S., Al-Shehri does what she can.

Australia’s Hunt for Leakers Has Journalists Feeling Exposed
Australia has no constitutional protection for freedom of speech. There is, however, a deterrent to whistleblowers and other sources. It is known as Section 70, which makes it a crime for any public official to share information without lawful authority.

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