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Sunday, May 19, 2024

UK Court Bars Sex Offender from Using AI Tools

In a groundbreaking ruling in the UK, a sex offender found guilty of producing over 1,000 indecent images of children has been barred from utilizing any “AI generating tools” for the next five years, marking the first instance of such a directive.

Anthony Dover, aged 48, was instructed by a UK court to refrain from utilizing, accessing, or visiting artificial intelligence generation tools without prior authorization from law enforcement, as part of a sexual harm prevention order issued in February.

This prohibition extends to tools like text-to-image generators, capable of crafting realistic images from textual commands, as well as websites facilitating the creation of explicit “deepfakes.”

Additionally, Dover, who received a community order and a £200 fine, has been explicitly prohibited from employing Stable Diffusion software, known to be exploited by individuals involved in child exploitation to produce highly realistic abusive material involving children, as indicated by records from a sentencing hearing at Poole Magistrates Court.

The case is the latest in a string of prosecutions where AI generation has emerged as an issue and follows months of warnings from charities over the proliferation of AI-generated sexual abuse imagery.

Last week, the government announced the creation of a new offence that makes it illegal to make sexually explicit deepfakes of over-18s without consent. Those convicted face prosecution and an unlimited fine. If the image is then shared more widely offenders could be sent to jail.

Creating, possessing and sharing artificial child sexual abuse material was already illegal under laws in place since the 1990s, which ban both real and “pseudo” photographs of under-18s. In previous years, the law has been used to prosecute people for offences involving lifelike images such as those made using Photoshop.

Recent cases suggest it is increasingly being used to deal with the threat posed by sophisticated artificial content. In one going through the courts in England, a defendant who has indicated a guilty plea to making and distributing indecent “pseudo photographs” of under-18s was bailed with conditions including not accessing a Japanese photo-sharing platform where he is alleged to have sold and distributed artificial abuse imagery, according to court records.

In another case, a 17-year-old from Denbighshire, north-east Wales, was convicted in February of making hundreds of indecent “pseudo photographs”, including 93 images and 42 videos of the most extreme category A images. At least six others have appeared in court accused of possessing, making or sharing pseudo-photographs – which covers AI generated images – in the last year.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said the prosecutions were a “landmark” moment that “should sound the alarm that criminals producing AI-generated child sexual abuse images are like one-man factories, capable of churning out some of the most appalling imagery”.

Susie Hargreaves, the charity’s chief executive, said that while AI-generated sexual abuse imagery currently made up “a relatively low” proportion of reports, they were seeing a “slow but continual increase” in cases, and that some of the material was “highly realistic”. “We hope the prosecutions send a stark message for those making and distributing this content that it is illegal,” she said.

It is not clear exactly how many cases there have been involving AI-generated images because they are not counted separately in official data, and fake images can be difficult to tell from real ones.

Last year, a team from the IWF went undercover in a dark web child abuse forum and found 2,562 artificial images that were so realistic they would be treated by law as though they were real.

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation (LFF), which runs the confidential Stop It Now helpline for people worried about their thoughts or behaviour, said it had received multiple calls about AI images and that it was a “concerning trend growing at pace”.

It is also concerned about the use of “nudifying” tools used to create deepfake images. In one case, the father of a 12-year-old boy said he had found his son using an AI app to make topless pictures of friends.

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