Taiwan Politician Faces Video Controversy: Deepfake Or Real?

In recent days, the media has been buzzing with reports suggesting that Deputy Premier Cheng Wen-tsang of Taiwan may have been caught in a deepfake scandal. A video circulating online appears to show Cheng Wen-tsang in a compromising situation with a woman in a hotel room. However, Cheng vehemently denies the authenticity of the video, claiming it has been manipulated and edited. He has even threatened legal action against those responsible.

Screenshot of the video showing Cheng Wen-tsang and a woman entering a hotel has been circulating on the internet, Cheng Wen-tsang claims it has been edited. (Source: Yahoo! news)

Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang weighed in on the matter, explaining that they are yet to receive any official information about whether the individuals involved have initiated legal proceedings. As for the authenticity of the video, Tsai Ching-hsiang asserted that from a technical standpoint, there seem to be no issues. However, the ultimate judgement may depend on the responsible authorities and their expertise in handling such cases.

Coincidentally, DPP legislator Chao Tien-lin found himself in a similar situation as photos of his extramarital affair with a Chinese woman emerged. Simultaneously, online videos have surfaced, allegedly showing Deputy Premier Cheng Wen-tsang in a compromising position with a woman in a hotel room. Cheng has firmly denied his involvement, asserting that the video was manipulated through editing and key portions were obscured. He has taken legal action against the fan page that disseminated the video in an effort to uncover the truth behind its source.

Akihisa Yaita, the Taiwan Bureau Chief for Japanese Sankei News, provided an interesting perspective. He suggested that most of the photos related to Chao Tien-lin were taken by his Chinese girlfriend using a mobile phone for selfies. Yaita speculated that the original versions of these photos may now be in the possession of Chinese authorities.

With the upcoming combined presidential and legislative elections in mind, Prosecutor General Hsing Tai-chou has repeatedly highlighted the need to address emerging trends in election interference. These trends include betting markets, foreign influence, and the use of AI technology to generate deepfake content, such as audio, video, images, and text. It is considered vital to ensure election fairness, and addressing the issue of generative AI and deepfakes requires prompt clarification, content removal, source tracing, and an investigation into the culprits.

Cheng Wen-tsang remains steadfast in his assertion that the video is a manipulated fabrication, and he is pursuing legal action to clear his name. Meanwhile, Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang has indicated that they are awaiting more information regarding the lawsuit, including which agency it will be directed at, and whether it will be a civil or criminal case.

In response to queries about the possibility of authenticating these videos as AI-generated deepfakes, Tsai Ching-hsiang referred to the recent demonstration of deepfake detection technology by the investigation bureau. He reiterated that there appear to be no technical obstacles to this task. However, the final verdict will depend on the expertise of the relevant authorities handling the case.

This comprehensive coverage of the deepfake controversy surrounding Deputy Premier Cheng Wen-tsang and its implications for election security underscores the evolving challenges in the age of digital politics, where AI manipulation and fake media resources can significantly influence electoral outcomes. This underscores the significance of having AI regulations in place.

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