Deepfake celeb porn triggers 330k-strong petition making watching videos illegal

A petition calling for stricter laws around creating deepfakes has racked up more than 330k signatures in a single day after a number of K-pop singers appeared in fake pornography videos.

The petition, set up on the South Korean presidential office's online petition page, calls for stricter laws to be put in place despite the fact that a new Act surrounding the sharing of deepfake videos was only enacted last June.

The revised Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment, etc. of Sexual Crimes states that those who are found to have made deepfake videos against the consent of an individual in a way that could prompt sexual desire or insult could face up to five years in jail or a fine of up to 50 million won (£33k).

If someone is found to have committed the crime for a commercial purpose, the prison term increases to up to seven years.

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"Videos featuring the victimized female celebrities are distributed on various social network services, and (they) are tortured with malicious comments of a sexually harassing and insulting nature," the petitioner wrote.

A 2019 report by Amsterdam-based cybersecurity firm Sensity, formerly Deeptrace, showed that a whopping 96% of deepfake videos online were pornographic content.

In a comparison of deepfake videos available on pornography websites, the report said that 100% of those targeted were female, with 99% of them being actresses and singers working in the entertainment sector.

"Deepfake pornography is a phenomenon that exclusively targets and harms women. In contrast, the non-pornographic deepfake videos we analyzed on YouTube contained a majority of male subjects," the report said.

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The report showed that 25% of those who appeared as subjects in videos on deepfake pornography websites were K-pop singers.

While the report did not unveil the names of individuals on privacy concerns, "the second and third most frequently targeted individuals, as well as the most frequently viewed individual, were South Korean K-pop singers," it added.

Organisations, such as the Korean Bar Association, have pointed out how the revision is insufficient to address loopholes in the deepfake porn sector that has grown into a global industry, Yonhap News Agency reports.

"There's a limit in uprooting the sharing of sexually exploitative content or 'insulting acquaintances,' acts that are happening on Telegram and similar platforms, simply through corrective punishment," the organization said in a statement following the law revision.

"Insulting acquaintances" is the direct translation of a new form of sexual crime in which perpetrators digitally edit photos of their acquaintances into pornographic photos.

It called for more comprehensive and preemptive legislation that not only includes regulating domestic and overseas internet operators by mandating them to delete such material, but also disclosing and tightening punishment for people who have consumed such videos.

This could mean those watching deepfakes could be punished – as well as the content creators.

With the petition now having earned more than the minimum threshold of 200,000 within 30 days, the presidential office is expected to release an official response on the issue within 30 days.

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