UK To Criminalise Creation Of Sexually Explicit Deepfakes

UK To Criminalise Creation Of Sexually Explicit Deepfakes

The new law has further tightened the punishment for abusing deepfakes

The UK government said that it will be criminalising the creation of sexually explicit “deepfakes” – images or videos which are manipulated using Artificial Intelligence or AI to look like someone without their consent.

People convicted of creating such deepfakes without consent, even if they don’t intend to share the images, will face prosecution. And, if the image is shared widely, the creators could be jailed.

The new offence will be introduced through an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament.

Laura Farris, the Minister for Victims and Safeguarding, said that it would send a “crystal clear message that creating deepfakes is immoral, often misogynistic, and a crime”.

This law seeks to widen the scope of legal protection against cyber sexual exploitation in the UK. Earlier, in November 2022, an amendment to the Online Safety Bill introduced that non-consensual sharing of deepfakes will be considered a criminal offence, especially for first-time offenders, and they might face jail time. This was in response to growing global concerns around the abuse of new technology, often pornographic in nature.

The new law has further tightened the punishment for abusing deepfakes, by criminalising their creation even if they are not shared.

“The purpose of deepfakes is often to cause alarm, humiliation, or distress to the victims and thus should be severely dealt with.┬áIt is another example of ways in which certain people seek to degrade and dehumanise others – especially women,” Laura Farris said.

The prevalence of a jurisdiction like this cannot be undermined, as it impacts a diverse range of parties, especially public figures. In March 2024, an analysis of the five most visited deepfake websites by Channel 4 News found that almost 4000 famous individuals had pornographic deepfakes on these websites, out of which 255 were British.

“It has the capacity to cause catastrophic consequences if the material is shared more widely. This government will not tolerate it,” the minister said.

As AI technology becomes increasingly sophisticated and easily accessible, regulations like this are a progressive step towards safeguarding individuals, especially women, in online spaces.

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