Manitoba government cracking down on AI-generated pornography

The Manitoba legislature wrapped up its spring session with a flurry of bills passed into law, including one that targets people creating or sharing AI-produced pornography without consent.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection said it is seeing more and more fake nude images and videos pop up online.

“We’re getting requests from survivors who have their child sexual abuse material altered and other images of them being present online,” said Signy Arnason, the associate executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

“And then we see this issue facing youth within schools where, again, these image-generating apps are so easily accessible.”

Advancements in technology have made it easier to manipulate or create images using artificial intelligence and these images are being shared online without consent.

In December, AI-generated photos of students at Winnipeg’s College Beliveau circulated around the school.

“So even though it’s not real, it was generated, the damage is still extensive or can be extensive. So we absolutely need to be on top of this issue,” Arnason said.

On Monday, the province expanded the definition of its non-consensual distribution of the Intimate Images Act to include fake pictures.

This means victims now have the ability to sue people who create or share these images and receive help getting the images removed.

“This is a civil remedy that will really send the message that if you are using these images to exploit or to victimize somebody, that you know, there’s remedies for the victim and there are avenues that they can take in order to stop this from happening,” said Justice Minister Matt Wiebe.

U of M’s Katie Szilagyi, a professor in law and technology, applauds the province for using broad language as technology is always evolving.

“So when the legislation can be as technologically neutral as possible in what it regulates and has broad, broad lines drawn in order to encompass things that might be coming just down the pipeline, that can be really helpful,” Szilagyi said.

She says the new law could help deter some people from creating or sharing these images.

“It can feel, I think, like it isn’t impacting somebody else when you’re alone in your basement, alone with your phone, just playing around with these types of technologies,” she said.

“But we really can understand this is another form of sexual violence against other folks.”

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection says the next step is pushing for rules and regulations for companies that produce these images.

If someone learns their images have been shared, the centre’s Project Arachnid can help locate and remove these images from the internet, and its website has resources available to help victims navigate their next steps.

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