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UK govt initiates crackdown, criminalizes creation of sexually explicit deep fake videos

Just Earth News | @justearthnews | 16 Apr 2024, 07:56 am Print

UK govt initiates crackdown, criminalizes creation of sexually explicit deep fake videos Deep Fakes

Photo Courtesy: Unsplash

The British government has said a new law will be framed which will make the creation of sexually explicit ‘deepfake’ image an offence.

"Under the new offence, those who create these horrific images without consent face a criminal record and an unlimited fine. If the image is then shared more widely offenders could be sent to jail," the British government said in a statement.

The new law will mean that if someone creates a sexually explicit deepfake, even if they have no intent to share it but purely want to cause alarm, humiliation or distress to the victim, they will be committing a criminal offence.

It will also strengthen existing offences, as if a person both creates this kind of image and then shares it, the CPS could charge them with two offences, potentially leading to their sentence being increased.

Deepfake images have become more prevalent in recent years, with images being viewed millions of times a month across the world. The fake images and videos are made to look hyper-realistic with the victim usually unaware and unable to give their consent to being sexualised in such a way.

"Today’s announcement is the latest step in a huge programme of work aimed at tackling this emerging and deeply distressing form of abuse against abuse towards women and girls," the statement issued by the government said.

Last year, reforms in the Online Safety Act criminalised the sharing of ‘deepfake’ intimate images for the first time.

"This new offence, which will be introduced through an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, will mean anyone who makes these sexually explicit deepfake images of adults maliciously and without consent will face the consequences of their actions," the statement said.

Minister for Victims and Safeguarding, Laura Farris, said: "The creation of deepfake sexual images is despicable and completely unacceptable irrespective of whether the image is shared."

As part of the Criminal Justice Bill, which continues its passage through Parliament, the UK government is also creating a range of new criminal offences to punish those who take or record intimate images without consent - or install equipment to enable someone to do so.

These changes in the Criminal Justice Bill will build on the existing ‘upskirting’ offence, making it a criminal offence to intentionally take or record an intimate image or film without consent or a reasonable belief in consent; take or record an intimate image or film without consent and with intent to cause alarm, distress or humiliation; or for the purpose of sexual gratification.

In March the first person was sentenced under the new Cyberflashing offence, which came into force in January via the Online Safety Act.

Nicholas Hawkes, who was 39 at the time of sentencing, sent images of his genitals to a 15-year-old girl and a woman, and received a sentence of more than a year in prison.

Cally Jane Beech, a campaigner and former Love Island contestant said: "This new offence is a huge step in further strengthening of the laws around deepfakes to better protect women."