UK Implements New Law to Combat Deepfake Abuse

By Ivan PetrenkoApr 18, 2024 05:30 AMNews
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Symbolic courtroom setting with a gavel, digital screen displaying a pixelated face, and legal documents on a judge's bench
Symbolic courtroom setting with a gavel, digital screen displaying a pixelated face, and legal documents on a judge's bench. Source: dall-e

The UK government has introduced a stringent law to combat the creation of sexually explicit deepfake images, a move announced on April 16, 2024. This legislation marks a significant step in addressing the malicious creation and distribution of these hyper-realistic images without the consent of the individuals depicted.

The new law specifies that anyone who produces sexually explicit deepfakes with the intent to cause distress, alarm, or humiliation, even without plans for distribution, will face prosecution. Offenders risk a criminal record, an unlimited fine, and potential imprisonment if the images are disseminated.

Deepening Legal Frameworks Against Digital Abuse

Deepfake technology has seen a dramatic increase in prevalence, with such content being viewed millions of times globally each month. The UK's legal amendment strengthens existing laws by making the creation of these images a standalone offence, potentially leading to cumulative charges if the content is also shared, thereby increasing the severity of penalties.

This legislation builds on last year's reforms under the Online Safety Act, which first criminalised the sharing of deepfake intimate images. The new offence, integrated into the Criminal Justice Bill, underlines the government's commitment to enhancing the legal protection against digital sexual abuse.

Broadening Safeguards for Women and Girls

Laura Farris, Minister for Victims and Safeguarding, emphasised that the creation of such material is an egregious act that degrades and dehumanises, particularly targeting women. The government's broader agenda includes multiple initiatives aimed at protecting women from both physical and online abuse. This includes making violence against women and girls a national threat requiring prioritised police response, similar to measures against terrorism.

Moreover, the Criminal Justice Bill is set to introduce additional measures, such as making the non-consensual taking or recording of intimate images a criminal offence, further tightening the net around digital and physical abuses.

Public and Expert Reaction

Public figures and organisations have expressed strong support for these measures. Cally Jane Beech, a former reality TV contestant and advocate, highlighted the personal and widespread impact of deepfake abuse. Meanwhile, GLAMOUR's European Editorial Director, Deborah Joseph, welcomed the move, underscoring the urgent need for protective measures in digital spaces.

The announcement of this law comes as part of a series of legislative steps designed to combat the evolving challenges of digital abuse, demonstrating the UK government's resolve to address these modern threats comprehensively.

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