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State Legislature Takes a Stand Against AI-Generated Child Pornography and Exploitation

California State Legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, have introduced three bills aimed at addressing the increasingly sophisticated arena of digitally generated pornography and exploitation. These bills, while distinct in their focus, collectively represent a concerted effort to close legal loopholes and extend protections against the misuse of artificial intelligence and digital technologies used to create and distribute child pornography and the non-consensual distribution of fake intimate images.

AB 1831, introduced by Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), targets a chilling new frontier in the digital exploitation of minors. The bill seeks to expand the legal definition of obscene matter to include AI-generated or computer-generated images that realistically depict minors engaging in sexual conduct. “Every one of these AI-generated images victimizes thousands of real children because they are a part of the formula that goes into creating that awful image,” Berman stated in a recent newsletter. “AI datasets are made by using publicly facing photos on the internet, known as ‘scraping,’ including images on school websites or social media. In addition, and very disturbingly, these programs use existing images and videos of actual children being sexually abused to learn what material to generate.”

Complementing AB 1831, SB 933, authored by Senators Aisha Wahab (D-Fremont) and Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Redlands), focuses on broadening the definition of a computer-generated image to encompass those created through artificial intelligence. This expansion is critical in ensuring that the legal framework keeps pace with technological advancements, effectively criminalizing the possession, creation, or distribution of AI-generated explicit content involving minors.

Lastly, AB 1856, authored by Assemblyman Tri Ta (R-Westminster) takes a broader stance against the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, extending its purview to include ‘deepfakes’. This bill specifically targets the distribution of hyper-realistic fake images or videos that depict individuals in intimate or compromising sexual situations without their consent. In doing so, AB 1856 aims to address the growing concern over digital impersonation and violation of privacy, which can have devastating emotional impacts on victims.

Together, these bills represent an acknowledgment that artificial intelligence has a dark side, and that the government has a role in protecting society from the malevolent effects of child pornography and sexual exploitation even if it is coming from AI. As technologies evolve, we are happy to see the California State Legislature’s proactive commitment to safeguarding individuals, particularly minors, from the pernicious effects of these technological misuses. It would be nice to see the same commitment from the legislature when it comes to protecting children from pornography infiltrating our public schools through its libraries and curriculum. But we will leave that for another article. 



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