Three ways we can fight deepfake porn


Taylor Swift’s viral deepfakes have put new momentum behind efforts to clamp down on deepfake porn. The White House said the incident was “alarming” and urged Congress to take legislative action. Thus far, the US has had a piecemeal, state-by-state approach to regulating the technology. For example, California and Virginia have banned the creation of pornographic deepfakes made without consent. New York and Virginia also ban the distribution of this sort of content. 

However, we could finally see action on a federal level. A new bipartisan bill that would make sharing fake nude images a federal crime was recently reintroduced in the US Congress. A deepfake porn scandal at a New Jersey high school has also pushed lawmakers to respond with a bill called the Preventing Deepfakes of Intimate Images Act. The attention Swift’s case has brought to the problem might drum up more bipartisan support. 

Lawmakers around the world are also pushing stricter laws for the technology. The UK’s Online Safety Act, passed last year, outlaws the sharing of deepfake porn material, but not its creation. Perpetrators could face up to six months of jail time. 

In the European Union, a bunch of new bills tackle the problem from different angles. The sweeping AI Act requires deepfake creators to clearly disclose that the material was created by AI, and the Digital Services Act will require tech companies to remove harmful content much more quickly. 

China’s deepfake law, which entered into force in 2023, goes the furthest. In China, deepfake creators need to take steps to prevent the use of their services for illegal or harmful purposes, ask for consent from users before making their images into deepfakes, authenticate people’s identities, and label AI-generated content. 

Pros: Regulation will offer victims recourse, hold creators of nonconsensual deepfake pornography accountable, and create a powerful deterrent. It also sends a clear message that creating nonconsensual deepfakes is not acceptable. Laws and public awareness campaigns making it clear that people who create this sort of deepfake porn are sex offenders could have a real impact, says Ajder. “That would change the slightly blasé attitude that some people have toward this kind of content as not harmful or not a real form of sexual abuse,” he says. 

Cons: It will be difficult to enforce these sorts of laws, says Ajder. With current techniques, it will be hard for victims to identify who has assaulted them and build a case against that person. The person creating the deepfakes might also be in a different jurisdiction, which makes prosecution more difficult. 



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