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Durbin, Graham, Klobuchar, Hawley Introduce DEFIANCE Act to Hold Accountable Those Responsible for the Proliferation of Nonconsensual, Sexually-Explicit “Deepfake” Images and Videos

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee; U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee; and U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) today introduced the bipartisan Disrupt Explicit Forged Images and Non-Consensual Edits Act of 2024 (DEFIANCE Act), legislation that would hold accountable those responsible for the proliferation of nonconsensual, sexually-explicit “deepfake” images and videos.

The volume of “deepfake” content available online is increasing exponentially as the technology used to create it has become more accessible to the public.  The overwhelming majority of this material is sexually explicit and is produced without the consent of the person depicted.  A 2019 study found that 96 percent of deepfake videos were nonconsensual pornography. 

“Sexually-explicit ‘deepfake’ content is often used to exploit and harass women—particularly public figures, politicians, and celebrities.  This month, fake, sexually-explicit images of Taylor Swift that were generated by artificial intelligence swept across social media platforms,” said Durbin.  “Although the imagery may be fake, the harm to the victims from the distribution of sexually explicit ‘deepfakes’ is very real.  Victims have lost their jobs, and they may suffer ongoing depression or anxiety.  By introducing this legislation, we’re giving power back to the victims, cracking down on the distribution of ‘deepfake’ images, and holding those responsible for the images accountable.”

“Nobody—neither celebrities nor ordinary Americans—should ever have to find themselves featured in AI pornography,” said Hawley. “Innocent people have a right to defend their reputations and hold perpetrators accountable in court. This bill will make that a reality.”

“We greatly appreciate Senator Durbin and Senator Graham for working with us to introduce the DEFIANCE Act to address and prevent nonconsensual deepfake pornography.  Currently, there are no laws addressing deepfake pornography.  Victims are unable to get justice and the problem is increasing due to a lack of consequences.  We had numerous victims approach us with traumatic stories of nonconsensual deepfake pornography.  This pushed us to take action.  We worked with Congress to write the DEFIANCE Act.  The DEFIANCE Act will address nonconsensual deepfake pornography by providing victims a civil right of action to seek justice. This will prevent nonconsensual deepfake pornography in the future,” said Omny Miranda Martone, Founder and CEO of the Sexual Violence Prevention Association (SVPA).

To stop the proliferation of nonconsensual, sexually-explicit “deepfakes”, the DEFIANCE Act of 2024 creates a federal civil remedy for victims who are identifiable in a “digital forgery,” which is defined as a visual depiction created through the use of software, machine learning, artificial intelligence, or any other computer-generated or technological means to falsely appear to be authentic. 

The legislation is introduced ahead of Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Big Tech’s failures to protect kids from sexual exploitation online.  The hearing, entitled “Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis,” will feature testimony from the CEOs of Discord, Meta, Snap, TikTok, and X (formerly known as Twitter).  Durbin, Graham, and the Committee have extensively examined and investigated the plague of online child sexual exploitation, through hearings, legislation, and oversight efforts.  This hearing will build on that work and highlight the need for Congress to act on the bipartisan bills reported by the Committee.  According to CNN, these “deepfake” images are not only harming adults but children as well.

A one-pager of the legislation can be found here