Creating sexually explicit ‘deepfake’ images to be treated in same way as 'bomb-making,' minister says

16 April 2024, 08:27

Watch Again: Nick Ferrari is joined by Safeguarding Minister Laura Farris | 16/04/24

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Creating a sexually explicit "deepfake" image will be treated in the same way as building a bomb at home, a minister has told LBC.

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Under the new law, those who create sexually explicit deepfakes without consent - even if it is not shared - face a criminal record and an unlimited fine.

It will remain an offence regardless of there was an intention to share it or not, and if it is shared more widely, perpetrators face jail time.

Minister for Victims and Safeguarding Laura Farris told LBC's Nick Ferrari this morning that deepfakes have been becoming "increasingly, more and more realistic".

Laura Farris: 'It has catastrophic psychological consequences for women, so we're making it a crime today'

"We've decided to criminalise creating and the reason we're doing that is: in this country, it is a crime if you build an explosive, even if you do it in the privacy of your own kitchen," she told LBC.

"And the reason we make it a crime is that, if your motive changes or it falls into the wrong hands, there could be catastrophic consequences.

"Creating a sexually explicit deepfake, even in your own bedroom, ought to be treated in the same way because of the catastrophic consequences for the young woman."

The new offence will be introduced through an amendment to the controversial Criminal Justice Bill, which is still making its way through Parliament.

Deborah Joseph, European editorial director of Glamour welcomed the planned amendment.

If the deepfakes are shared more widely, the perpetrators face fail time
If the deepfakes are shared more widely, the perpetrators face fail time. Picture: Getty

"In a recent Glamour survey, we found 91% of our readers believe deepfake technology poses a threat to the safety of women, and from hearing personal stories from victims, we also know how serious the impact can be," she said.

"While this is an important first step, there is still a long way to go before women will truly feel safe from this horrendous activity."

Yvette Cooper, Labour's shadow home secretary, welcomed the announcement too.

"Superimposing somebody's image onto sexually explicit photos and videos is a gross violation of their autonomy and privacy, which can cause enormous harm, and it must not be tolerated," she said.

Ms Cooper said it was "vital" the Government gets ahead of "fast-changing threats".

She added: "It's essential that the police and prosecutors are equipped with the training and tools required to rigorously enforce these laws in order to stop perpetrators from acting with impunity".