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Alabama Bill Aims to Criminalize Deepfakes Targeting Children

Artificial intelligence was used to create pornographic deepfake images of six Alabama middle schoolers, prompting one state senator to propose new legislation that would make the practice a felony punishable by up to 20 years.

The Alabama State Capitol building in Montgomery.
(TNS) — Deepfake images created by artificial intelligence would be banned under Alabama’s child pornography law under a bill sponsored by state Sen. April Weaver, R-Brierfield.

Weaver announced Monday she was introducing the bill after an incident in Demopolis.

Photographs of six girls at Demopolis Middle School were uploaded to an artificial intelligence site to make pornographic images by superimposing their faces over other images. A parent told the Demopolis Board of Education in December that two male students were responsible and the girls had no involvement, the Demopolis Times reported.

“With the expansion and easy accessibility of artificial intelligence, some individuals are using it for immoral purposes, and we must take every step necessary to ensure that innocent and vulnerable children remain protected,” Weaver said in a press release. “As digital technology continues to advance, our laws that protect Alabamians of all ages from harm must keep pace and adapt to it.”

Producers of deepfake technology use artificial intelligence to place images of people in photos and videos without their knowledge or consent.

Alabama’s current child pornography law makes it a felony to knowingly disseminate or display publicly any obscene matter containing a visual depiction of a person under the age of 17. A violation is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 20 years.

The current law defines visual depiction as “a portrayal, representation, illustration, image, likeness, or other thing that creates a sensory impression, whether an original, duplicate, or reproduction.” But that definition does not specifically cover digitally-produced or manipulated media, according to the news release about Weaver’s bill.

Weaver’s bill adds material created through “digitization or any other electronic process” to the list of banned child pornography media.

Weaver said she pre-filed the bill in advance of the legislative session, which starts Tuesday.

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