(Bloomberg) -- Artificial intelligence raises the risk of foreign governments spreading disinformation among voters ahead of the next US election, with Russia posing the biggest threat, senior Biden administration officials warned.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said Wednesday that Russia and other adversaries, including China and Iran, have been seeking crucial data like polling information to shape their efforts to sow chaos in US democratic processes.

“Moscow most likely views such operations as a means to tear down the United States as its perceived primary adversary enabling Russia to promote itself as a great power,” Haines said during a hearing on election security held by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Election disruption is emerging as a top concern in the US with less than six months before voters head to the polls to decide control of the White House and Congress. Emerging AI technologies that allow creation and mass distribution of deep fake images pose a serious risk to the integrity of the voting process, Haines said.

Senator Mark Warner, the panel’s Democratic Chairman, expressed concern that the biggest social media platforms had shown “utter disinterest” in countering disinformation and that some had reduced their efforts to weed out false content. He said he planned to hold a hearing with the social media companies, but offered no further details.

Jen Easterly, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said election infrastructure has never been more secure. But she warned of the power of generative AI to undermine elections as well as physical threats to election officials after “corrosive” claims were made in 2020 about the election results. 

Senators in both parties expressed concerns about whether and how the government can be trusted to call out fakes and do it in time to have an impact.

The panel’s top Republican, Marco Rubio, sought more clarity on which US officials would call out fake information publicly. Haines said it would depend on the situation but they would seek to make public statements when possible.

Fellow Republican Jim Risch meanwhile brought up a Republican complaint about a letter scores of former intelligence officials signed in 2020 expressing their suspicions that a story about Hunter Biden in the weeks before that year’s election had the hallmarks of Russian disinformation. Risch sought answers on how many of those officials still have security clearances and contracts with the government. Haines said she would work on giving him answers.

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