Porn actresses without our knowledge
It's called deepfake pornography: artificial intelligence that, starting from photographs of any woman, creates obscene images, not true but increasingly realistic. Dangerous evolution of revenge porn, puts everyone at risk of being exposed on the web for the purpose of harassment, revenge or blackmail

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In 2019, Italy adopted a law that punishes crime of the so-called revenge porn (the diffusion online of sexual images of a woman by her ex-partner), but from the web comes an even more dangerous weapon against women: sites that give you the opportunity to create false revenge porn, or false pornographic images, photos or videos, starting from a common photo.

Recently the Anglo-Saxon media reported a site - which we will not name - on which users can upload a photo of a dressed woman to "undress" her, obtaining a fake nude deepfake very realistic, produced with a technique of deep learning (deep learning) for AI-based human image synthesis (see here The Huffington Post, BBC News And Daily Mail).

The word deepfake was coined in 2017 on the social network Reddit, where the first examples of deepfake: pranks, hoax and political satire films, but above all pornographic films of actresses and influencers, among which Scarlett Johansson (see here). The technology soon arrived in Italy too, with political pornographic videos such as Giorgia Meloni And Laura Boldrini, and even with more harmless videos like the one in which Renzi made raspberries at Mattarella (see here).

This new site, launched in 2020, however, raises alarm because it has developed more advanced and easier-to-use technology, and quickly and freely produces fake nudes that are practically indistinguishable from a real photo. As he writes Huffington Post, the site boasts that “its technology is so powerful that there is no woman in the world, regardless of ethnicity or nationality, who is safe from being 'undressed'”.

Of course, technology works exclusively for female nudes: if you upload a photo of a man, the site returns it with breasts and vulva.

According to the expert of deepfake Henry Ajder, “realism has improved massively" And "the vast majority of people who use these [tools] want to target women they know”: colleagues, friends, classmates, exes, neighbors, or strangers who briefly crossed paths. Technology deepfake it is therefore now used mainly as weapon against common women, not protected by celebrity, which at least raises the viewer's doubt that the pornographic images could be fake.

The speed with which the site has spread is also causing alarm, and the tens of millions of men using it all over the world. It is not clear who the authors of the site are and where they are located; in July 2021 the majority of users were from the United States, followed by Thailand, Taiwan, Germany and China. In particular, the site spread rapidly through a incentive system that encourages users to share a personalized link on social media deepfake that they produced, so you can upload more photos for free (currently the site allows you to upload a photo every two hours).

The site has therefore established a fruitful link with the technology giants: it does not operate on the dark web but in the open, in fact it is easily indexed on Google. But the most important relationship is with i social networks who in turn profit from it, and, indifferent to the victimization of women, they are careful not to adopt measures that could stem its spread, such as banning the site's URL from their platforms. At the moment, only Facebook has done so, after being contacted by journalists from the Huffington Post.

Legal solutions are being developed in the UK and US to thwart this threat which could potentially affect any woman who has ever posted a photo of herself from the waist up on social networks.

In the United Kingdom the parliamentarian Mary Miller is working to include a ban on the use and development of such “tools” in the next law on online safety: “If software vendors develop this technology, they are complicit in a very serious crime and should be forced to design their products to prevent this from happening" (see here).

In the United States Mary Anne Franks, teacherand law at the University of Miami and president of the Cyber ​​Civil Rights Initiative (non-profit organization offering services to victims of cybercrime, see here), is developing a proposed criminal law focused on “digital identity falsification and theft” (digital impersonation forgery) which would punish those who knowingly create or distribute pornography deepfake, and which would limit Section 230 protections to web platforms Communications Decency Act, a controversial, decades-old law (it dates back to 1996) that grants immunity from liability for third-party content.

It is essential that even in Italy, where women and girls, often even minors, continue to be tortured since revenge porn, legislators are aware of the lethal technology of pornography deepfake, already arrived here despite the chronic technological delay of our country, and who take preventive measures without waiting for the suicide of one or more women who have fallen victim to forgery revenge porn.

Maria Celeste




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