Feb 08
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
HKU Private Law and Theory Speaker Series: Mistaken Identity and Deep Fake Fraud in the Age of AI

HKU Private Law and Theory Speaker Series


Mistaken Identity and Deep Fake Fraud in the Age of AI


8 February 2024 (Thursday)
1:00 – 2:00 PM
NEW VENUE: Academic Conference Room, 11/F Cheng Yu Tung Tower, HKU




This paper considers the problematic case of deepfakes created by AI and used to manipulate, trick or defraud ordinary individuals. Private law has long been asked to respond to cases of fraud arising from mistaken identity, such as where a buyer misrepresents their identity to obtain goods on credit, a bad actor creates a false identity to extract payment for services or friendship, or a seller pretends to be someone reputable to sell worthless goods. These kinds of conduct now occur over the internet. They are made all the more potent by generative AI’s increased availability and capacity to create deepfake images and voice. Many jurisdictions are currently grappling with questions of whether and how to regulate AI. However, in responding to deep fake fraud, much of the work remains to be done by private law. Even the most ambitious and advanced AI-specific regulation, the EU AI Act, essentially leaves the issue to existing legal regimes, requiring only the labelling of AI-created deep fakes. Private law tells us there are three possible targets for an individual seeking relief from a transaction procured through a mistaken identity. These are the fraudster (who will often have disappeared), the recipient of any fraudulently obtained goods or funds (who may be entirely innocent), and the intermediary through which the transaction was facilitated (in this case, digital platforms). To this mix may be added technical interventions that reduce the likelihood of deep fake fraud, including digital ID to establish a person’s identity online and watermarking to verify the integrity of images. These protections require the fraud victim to have a reasonably sophisticated knowledge of the relevant technology. So, the extent to which they should be treated as indicators of appropriate care, relevant to allocating the risks of mistaken identity fraud via deep fakes, is currently unclear. Herein lies the policy choice for both private law and AI regulation.


Professor Jeannie Paterson, Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne


Professor Jeannie Paterson is the founding co-director of the Centre for AI and Digital Ethics, an interdisciplinary research, teaching and policy centre at the University of Melbourne involving the Faculties of Engineering and Information Technology, Law, Arts, Medicine, and Education. Jeannie’s teaching and research focuses on consumer and data protection law and ethics in the context of emerging digital technologies. She has written and spoken extensively on issues of fairness, bias, privacy and existential risk in the emergence of AI and social robots. She regularly speaks to media about these issues. Jeannie has a track record of consultation and collaboration with government, industry, regulators and community legal centres. She has consulted on legal and regulatory reform to ASEAN, the Banking and Financial Services Royal Commissions, the Productivity Commission, the Australian Law Reform Commission, Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department, Commonwealth Treasury, and ASIC.


All are Welcome! Please register at https://bit.ly/4baVAz0 to attend this in-person event.

For inquiries: Flora Leung at

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