Vancouver, British Columbia, has become the latest province to address the issue of deepfake pornography with new legislation allowing individuals to take action against explicit content online, regardless of whether it is real or fake. This move has sparked urgent conversations among experts, legislators, and legal professionals as the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has made it easier and more accessible to create fake explicit images of individuals.
Philippe Pasquier, a professor of creative AI at Simon Fraser University, highlighted the speed and accessibility of the technology, raising concerns about the blurred lines between reality and altered images. He emphasized the increase in accessibility, suggesting that both good and bad actors now have greater access to this technology.
While eight provinces in Canada have enacted intimate image laws, only half of them specifically refer to altered images. British Columbia recently joined Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick in enacting laws that allow individuals to take legal action against intimate images, real or fake.
Under the new B.C. law, individuals can turn to a civil resolution tribunal to have intimate images taken down, and perpetrators and internet companies can be held accountable for damages. Premier David Eby highlighted the vulnerability of individuals to deepfake “attacks,” emphasizing the importance of the new legislation in addressing the impacts of technology on society and individuals.
The B.C. legislation is a step forward, but concerns remain about the legislation’s focus on non-consensual distribution of explicit images rather than the creation of non-consensual images. Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of Battered Women’s Support Services, stressed the need for comprehensive legislation to combat deepfakes on social media and target creators of non-consensual images.
Legal experts, such as Suzie Dunn, an assistant law professor at Dalhousie University, pointed out the complexities of existing laws in addressing deepfakes and altered images, emphasizing the need for ongoing evolution of the law to keep up with advancements in technology.
Pablo Tseng, an intellectual property lawyer, observed that deepfakes accelerate the longstanding issue of misrepresentation, prompting the need for specific laws like the one enacted in British Columbia. He highlighted the continuing relevance of existing laws targeting misrepresentation but acknowledged the importance of legislation focusing on deepfakes.
As deepfake technology continues to evolve, concerns persist regarding content moderation by websites and search engines. Experts have called for measures to de-index websites focused on creating sexual deepfakes and emphasized the need to protect both celebrities and everyday individuals from the harmful impacts of such technology.
The rise of deepfake pornography poses significant legal and ethical challenges, prompting ongoing discussions and efforts to address the impact of this technology on individuals and society.