‘Deepfake’ revenge porn is now illegal in Virginia

Virginia has expanded a revenge porn law to include “deepfakes,” the fabricated or manipulated videos and images of people made using machine learning that have begun popping up with increasing regularity.

The law, which went into effect Monday, now makes it illegal to share nude photos of videos of someone without their permission— whether they’re real or fake ones. The law also covers photoshopped images or any other kind of fake footage, not just the more advanced, and harder to spot, deepfake imagery and videos.

Virginia has had a revenge porn law on the books since 2014. But it didn’t properly cover fabricated images and videos, an act that has become more common thanks to advances in software.

The pace of this technology, which is improving at an astonishing rate, has left state and federal lawmakers flat-footed. Victims of deepfaked revenge porn often don’t have recourse because it’s not covered by current law. And yes, deepfake porn exists. The app DeepNude, which existed until a warranted backlash prompted the creator to take it down, used neural network to turn an image of any clothed woman into a rendering of her nude.

Lawmakers are beginning to react with mixed results. For instance, the DEEPFAKES Accountability Act was introduced last month Congress by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY). That bill would criminalize synthetic media that is broadcast or shared as an authentic video or image.

The proposed federal legislation is a much broader regulation aimed at fake videos and images that imitate a person. The bill would require anyone creating synthetic media content that imitates a person to disclose that it’s altered or generated, using “irremovable digital watermarks, as well as textual descriptions.” The bill would give victims the right to sue creators and/or otherwise “vindicate their reputations” in court.

The UK government is reviewing a law that specifically deals with the making and sharing of non-consensual intimate images in response to a rise of abusive and offensive digital communications.

The commission reviewing the law will focus on revenge porn as well as deepfaked porn and cyber flashing, which involves sending unsolicited sexual images to a person’s phone by taking advantage of technologies like Bluetooth that allow for proximity-based file sharing.

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