We MUST Stop the Assault on Young Girls by AI DeepNude Software

For teen girls victimized by ‘deepfake’ nude photos, there are few, if any, pathways to recourse in most states


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By Melissa Chan and Kat Tenbarge, NBCNew.com, April 13, 2024
 

Teenage girls in the U.S. who are increasingly being targeted or threatened with fake nude photos created with artificial intelligence or other tools have limited ways to seek accountability or recourse, as schools and state legislatures struggle to catch up to the new technologies, according to legislators, legal experts and one victim who is now advocating for a federal bill.

Since the 2023 school year kicked into session, cases involving teen girls victimized by the fake nude photos, also known as deepfakes, have proliferated worldwide, including at high schools in New Jersey and Washington state.

AI technology is becoming more widely available, such as stable diffusion (open-source technology that can produce images from text prompts) and “face-swap” tools that can put a victim’s face in place of a pornographic performer’s face in a video or photo. 

Apps that purport to “undress” clothed photos have also been identified as possible tools used in some cases and have been found available for free on app stores. These modern deepfakes can be more realistic-looking and harder to immediately identify as fake.

It’s unclear how many young people have been victimized by AI-generated nudes. 

The FBI said it is difficult to calculate the number of minors who are sexually exploited. But the agency said it has seen a rise in the number of open cases involving crimes against children. There were more than 4,800 cases in 2022, which grew from more than 4,100 the year before, the FBI told NBC News.

“The FBI takes crimes against children seriously and works to investigate the facts of each allegation in a collective effort with our state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners,” the agency said, adding that victims can face significant challenges when trying to stop the spread of the image or get it removed from the internet. 

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Franks said there are likely a lot more incidents and that they will only increase.

“Whatever we’re hearing about that floats up to the surface is probably just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “This is probably happening quite a bit right now, and girls just haven’t found out about it yet or discovered it or the school is covering it up.”

At Issaquah High School in Washington state, a school district representative said a mid-October incident “involving fake, AI-generated imagery of students” continues to affect the student body. 

In the Spanish town of Almendralejo, mothers say dozens of their middle school-aged daughters have been victimized with AI-generated nude photos created with an app that can “undress” clothed photos. Local police in New Jersey, Washington and Spain are investigating the high school cases. 

In a June public service announcement, the FBI warned that technology used to create nonconsensual pornographic deepfake photos and videos was improving and being used for harassment and sextortion. 

Meanwhile, the National Association of Attorneys General called on Congress in September to study AI’s effects on children and come up with legislation that would protect them from those abuses. 

In a letter signed by 54 state and territory attorneys general, the group said it was concerned that “AI is creating a new frontier for abuse that makes prosecution more difficult.”

"We are engaged in a race against time to protect the children of our country from the dangers of AI,” the letter said.

Francesca and her mother said they plan to head to Washington, D.C., in December to personally urge Congress members to act, as they continue to advocate for updated policies within the school system and seek accountability for what happened.

“We all know this is not an isolated incident,” Dorota Mani said. “It will never be an isolated incident. This is going to keep happening all the time. We have to stop pretending that it’s not important.”

The rise in incidents targeting high school girls follows the proliferation of AI deepfake apps and deepfake porn websites where such material is created, shared and sold. 

2019 report from Sensity, an Amsterdam-based company that tracks AI-generated media, found that 96% of deepfakes created at that point were sexually explicit and featured women who didn’t consent to their creation. Many victims are unaware the deepfakes exist. 

Franks said there is nothing parents and children can do to prevent the creation of deepfakes using their likenesses. Instead, Franks said schools and local law enforcement need to make an example out of perpetrators in cases that reach the general public, to discourage others from creating deepfakes.

“If you could imagine a dramatic and important response from the school in New Jersey or from the authorities in New Jersey to make an example out of the case, really strict penalties, people go to jail, you might get the discouragement,” Franks said. 

“In the absence of that, it’s just going to become one more tool that men and boys use against women and girls to exploit and humiliate them and that the law basically has nothing to say about.”

 
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT THIS STORY AT NBCNEWS.COM


 
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