Nonconsensual AI Content Criticized: Will Congress Act?

Victims of nonconsensual, sexually explicit deepfakes content are urging Congress to enact legislation as time for legislative action.

Victims of nonconsensual, sexually explicit deepfakes content are urging Congress to enact legislation as time for legislative action dwindles.

Both liberal and conservative members of Congress, from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Senator Josh Hawley, are unified in addressing the issue of nonconsensual pornography generated by artificial intelligence. This urgency is echoed by the White House, which has called for strengthened legal protections for victims.

Despite this consensus, lawmakers have struggled for over a year to devise an effective legislative response, highlighting Washington’s challenge in keeping pace with rapidly evolving technology that deeply impacts personal privacy.

The legislative stalemate stems from debates over accountability for deepfakes, with tech industry lobbyists resisting any proposals that would implicate platforms in the distribution of such content. Meanwhile, the creation and dissemination of these videos have become increasingly easy, facilitated by numerous apps that allow anyone with a smartphone to generate explicit deepfakes quickly.

Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a proponent of anti-deepfake legislation, emphasized to POLITICO the need for swift Congressional action to tackle this growing threat. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has proposed a regulatory framework for AI that includes references to deepfakes and privacy but stops short of endorsing specific legislation, focusing instead on funding AI research and development.

High-profile cases involving celebrities and disturbing incidents affecting private individuals have propelled advocacy efforts.

For instance, a California woman discovered that a man she had rejected used AI to create a sexually explicit deepfake video of her, which he then distributed. This violation led her to seek assistance from the Sexual Violence Prevention Association, highlighting the personal and societal impacts of this abuse.

The proposed DEFIANCE Act would allow victims to sue creators, solicitors, possessors, and distributors of AI-generated porn for damages, signaling a shift towards empowering individuals over targeting tech companies. The White House appears supportive of this direction within the broader context of the Violence Against Women Act, although specific endorsements of the DEFIANCE Act remain unconfirmed.

Tech industry representatives have proposed limiting the bill to only penalize the distribution of such content, arguing that broader measures could infringe on free speech rights. However, supporters like Durbin advocate for a more comprehensive approach to ensure accountability.

As Congressional debates continue, the urgency of enacting effective legislation remains paramount, underscored by the ongoing harm to victims and the broader implications for privacy and personal safety in the digital age. The outcome will significantly influence the landscape of digital rights and responsibilities amidst advancing technological capabilities.

All this, however, leads the public to question whether Congress should work on targeting the safety of children for legitimate reasons.

Some are questioning the normalization of calling pedophiles a “minor attracted person,” highlighting that Congress is focusing on deepfake explicit content but neglecting this societal change by pushing a positive term for such as a harmful behavior, flagging it as utterly inappropriate. To them, this is another major issue that Congress should also address.

Don’t get us wrong. It is vital to tackle AI generated harmful content, explicitly those of minors, which is deeply disturbing on its own. Last week alone, a man in the US generated more than 13,000 explicit images of children. Protecting children, in any shape and form, is, and should always be, a fundamental priority that should not be compromised.

So far this is not making America great.

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