In a chilling revelation, a mother and her 14-year-old daughter are leading a charge for enhanced protections after AI-generated nude images of the teenager and her classmates circulated within a high school in New Jersey. Simultaneously, on the other side of the country, officials are investigating a similar incident involving a teenage boy using artificial intelligence to create and distribute explicit images of students in suburban Seattle, Washington.
These disturbing cases highlight the urgent need for safeguards against the escalating threat of AI-generated explicit material, particularly targeting women and children. The proliferation of such content has reached unprecedented levels, with more than 143,000 new deepfake videos posted online this year alone, according to an analysis shared with The Associated Press by independent researcher Genevieve Oh.
The rising menace of AI-generated nude images
The incident in Westfield, New Jersey, unfolded this summer but came to the school’s attention on October 20. AI-generated images, using the faces of female students, were circulated on the social media app Snapchat among a group of friends. The affected families, desperate for solutions, are now urging lawmakers to implement robust safeguards against the manipulation of victims’ images through AI models and various platforms openly advertising their services.
The crisis is not confined to New Jersey. In suburban Seattle, a teenage boy allegedly employed artificial intelligence to create and distribute explicit images of fellow students. This wave of incidents has prompted affected families, advocates, and legal experts to call for federal regulation that can establish uniform protections across the country. Such measures would not only safeguard victims but also send a resounding message to potential perpetrators.
Seeking legal remedies
While several states, including Texas, Minnesota, and New York, have passed laws criminalizing nonconsensual deepfake porn, the scope and effectiveness of these legislations vary. States like California and Illinois provide victims the ability to sue perpetrators for damages in civil court. Currently, New Jersey is considering its own legislation to ban deepfake porn and impose penalties, including jail time or fines, on those who spread it.
State Sen. Kristin Corrado introduced a bill in New Jersey to address deepfake porn, emphasizing the need for a federal law to provide consistent protections nationwide. Advocates are rallying for a federal law that can penalize organizations profiting from apps facilitating the creation of deepfakes, reinforcing the efforts of President Joe Biden’s executive order that aims to combat the use of generative AI for explicit content.
The road ahead
As the spotlight intensifies on this alarming issue, the question remains: Will federal regulation be the key to combating the rising tide of AI-generated explicit content? While some lawmakers push for disclosures on AI-generated content and legislation to make sharing deepfake porn images illegal, concerns about potential infringement on the First Amendment are voiced by entities such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The battle against AI-generated explicit content continues, with affected families and advocates championing for the protection of vulnerable individuals in an ever-evolving digital landscape. How can legislation strike the right balance between safeguarding individuals and preserving freedom of expression in the face of this technological menace?