Creeps who make ‘violating’ deepfake intercourse pictures face jail underneath robust new legal guidelines

Creeps who share fake sexual pictures without their victim’s consent will soon face prison or unlimited fines, MPs have heard.

New legislation has been put forward to tackle “deeply violating” deepfakes following demands for tough laws. The Government has announced new measures to address the abuse of new technology, which the Commons heard is mostly used to target women.

A new offence, added to the Criminal Justice Bill, which is going through Parliament, will make it illegal to create fake sexual images or video of non-consenting victims. Those who go on to share them could be jailed for up to six months.

Home Office minister Laura Farris said she hopes this is the first step in tackling the dangers of manipulated pictures and video. She told MPs: “We recognise that the offence is overwhelmingly targeted at women, predicated in the absence of consent and as such a gateway to other types of offending.”

The new law has been supported by Labour. Shadow Justice Minister Alex Cunningham said: “Sexual offending in the online and digital world continues to grow at a terrifying pace.” He went on: “I’ve been horrified by reports they’re used to harass and humiliate individuals. “The exponential rise of explicit deepfake images demands urgent legislative action. Creating a deepfake without someone’s consent is a deeply violating act.”

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An amendment to the Bill says that people convicted of the new offence could be jailed or face an unlimited fine. Ms Farris told the Commons that the UK may be the first place in the world to introduce such laws. She said that when implemented, people who create such images without a victim’s consent can be fined, with no upper limit. Ms Farris said that those who go on to share the deepfake material could be sent to jail.

She said: “In taking this up we are the first, or if I’m wrong about that we’re among the first national legislature to do so.” MPs heard that the new offence will only apply to faked images of a sexual nature, but future laws could be put forward to tackle other types of deepfakes.

She said: “It’s my hope that it may provide a gateway and lever for more law around this.” And the minister added: “We’re delighted to see major deepfake websites withdraw from the UK, and I’d encourage others to follow this lead.”

But campaigners have demanded that the law is strengthened to ensure criminals don’t exploit loopholes. After the Ministry of Justice announced it was creating a new offence last month, Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: ““We welcome the criminalisation of the creation of sexually explicit deepfakes as a means to drive tech platforms to take preventative action to address this abuse. This law should lead to obligations on tech platforms and payment providers to stop the promotion and facilitation of this deeply harmful form of violence against women – violence they currently profit from richly.

“However, unless the government amends the law so that the offence is based on the absence of consent rather than the perpetrator’s intent, there will be a massive loophole in the law. This will not only give tech platforms a free pass to claim their sites are for ‘humour’, it will also give perpetrators a ‘get out of jail free’ card for their defence, which will ultimately prevent victims from accessing justice.”