June 21, 2024

US Alarmed Over Taylor Swift Deepfakes, Calls for New Legislation

Sexually explicit AI-generated images of popular pop singer Taylor Swift went viral this week, sparking calls for new legislation against the creation of deepfake images.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre expressed alarm over the incident, urging Congress to take legislative action.

Distributed through the popular instant messaging app Telegram, the fake images reached millions of users. We also found these images on X, which were viewed 47 million times before they got taken down by the platform.

Democrats and Republicans Unite on the Deepfake Situation

Quite expectedly, the incident has sparked outrage among Taylor Swift fans and US politicians alike — both Democrats and Republicans calling for the criminalization of such actions.

While Taylor Swift hasn’t spoken out in public about the incident, her legal team is considering taking legal action against the site that published the deepfaked images.

However, this is not the first time that AI has been used to create fake yet convincing imagery of someone without their consent.

A spokesperson for US representative Joe Morelle expressed hope that the news will add momentum and garner support for a bill addressing the exact situation.

The bill, which Morelle tried to pass with a renewed push last week, intends to declare the nonconsensual distribution of digitally altered explicit pictures a federal crime.

This would bring such wrongdoers to justice with both civil and criminal penalties, Morelle’s spokesperson pointed out.

In a post on X, Democratic representative Yvette D Clarke said that recent developments in AI have made it much easier and cheaper to create deepfake images – which have been used to target women for years.

AI technology is advancing faster than the necessary guardrail.Tom Kean Jr, a Republican Congressman

He went on to emphasize the need for safeguards to combat the growing and dangerous trend, pointing out that the victim could be any young person across the country.

X issued a statement saying that it was actively taking down the images, monitoring the situation closely to prevent further violations, and taking “appropriate action” against the involved accounts.

The Rise of Deepfakes Amid a Stark Lack of Legislation

Anyone can be a victim of deepfake, including you. However, the risk is much higher for celebrities and public personalities.

If you don’t know what deepfake exactly is, it is the use of artificial intelligence to create realistic images or videos of a person by manipulating their face, body, and even voice. This has been fueled by the recent rise of AI.

A 2023 study reveals that the total number of deepfake videos on the internet stood at 95,820 in 2023 — a 550% jump since 2019. And to everyone’s shock, 98% of these deepfake videos are pornography.

The UK criminalized the sharing of deepfake pornography in 2023 with its Online Safety Act. But that’s not the case in the US, since there’s no proper legislation addressing the problem.

Despite state-level attempts to tackle the creation and distribution of sexually explicit deepfakes, there are no federal laws on the issue.

RAINN Vice President of Public Policy Stefan Turkheimer spoke up on the incident, claiming that over 100,000 such images and videos are shared on the internet daily.

Expressing the organization’s anger on behalf of the pop singer, he added that they were “angrier still” for the millions who lack the resources to regain autonomy over their images.

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