Deepfake sex videos could lead to ‘next pandemic’ as hackers steal photos

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Experts have warned we could face a "new pandemic" on the internet as people's faces are merged with porn and shared online.

Deepfakes are where artificial intelligence (AI) technology is deliberately used to deceive viewers into believing fabricated material is real.

In recent years this has led to people's faces being merged with sexual videos or images to create ultra-realistic material.

Clare McGlynn, Professor in Law at Durham University, has warned people are already being targeted by deepfake porn and cases are only going to increase.

Prof McGlynn told the BBC Scotland's The Nine: "If we don't stop this now, we don't try and change things now, this is going to just become the next pandemic.

"It's going to become the next epidemic of abuse."

Writer and poet Helen Mort, from Sheffield, Yorks, was the victim of a deepfake when non-sexual images were taken from her social media and uploaded to a porn website.

Site users were encouraged to edit her photos onto pornography โ€“ creating deepfake material where a real image is merged with a computer-generated one.

Helen told the BBC she wanted the creation and distribution of these images to be illegal.

She said: "This is a crime which in many cases is going on invisibly.

"Those images of me had been out there for years and I didn't know about them, and I'm still having nightmares about some of them now.

"It's an incredibly serious form of abuse."

Some of the images were more "chilling" than others which left Helen not knowing whether to laugh or feel ashamed.

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She said she feels let down by the law, as it isn't an offence to manipulate images in that way.

Prof McGlynn has said law changes may be in order to combat deepfake porn.

She said: "While this cruel act can be prosecuted under existing offences, an independent review on strengthening the law is under way.

"We have already introduced new laws to tackle 'revenge porn' and 'upskirting'."

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Crime

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