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‘Irrevocable harm’: US bill would criminalize sharing non-consensual deepfake porn

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Creating and sharing deepfake porn without the consent of the people depicted will become illegal in the US, if a bill proposed earlier this month (May 2023) is passed.

The Preventing Deepfakes of Intimate Images Act was put forward by Democrat Congressman Joe Morelle. If passed, it would criminalize sharing non-consensual deepfake porn images and video, and create a path for victims to take action against alleged offenders.

The bill proposes that if alleged victims seek civil action against alleged deepfake porn offenders, their legal anonymity would be preserved in the process. The move follows a similar process occuring in the UK, where the proposed forthcoming Online Safety Bill would criminalize making deepfake porn without consent.

The US bill comes after huge leaps in AI technology have made realistic deepfake porn featuring celebrities common online. The technology can also potentially be used for malicious acts such as revenge porn.

“The spread of AI-generated and altered images can cause irrevocable emotional, financial, and reputational harm – and unfortunately, women are disproportionately impacted. As artificial intelligence continues to evolve and permeate our society, it’s critical that we take proactive steps to combat the spread of disinformation and protect individuals from compromising situations online,” Morelle said.

He added: “I’m proud to have introduced this legislation that takes common-sense steps to protect their privacy, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass it into law.”

Morelle highlighted the potential for civil lawsuits to be brought against deepfake porn creators, if the bill passes. This could create a landscape in which breaking the law could have expensive repercussions for deepfake creators in the US.

Morelle said that the bill “will signify to people who are posting this material, that it’s not going to be a free ride anymore, they’re not going to be able to be shielded from prosecution potentially. And they’re not going to be shielded from facing lawsuits.”

Tightening rules on deepfake porn could have deep impact on sites like MrDeepFakes, which has grown hugely popular by producing celebrity porn deepfakes without consent.

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