April 19, 2024
EU Targets Criminalizing AI-Generated Child Abuse

EU Targets Criminalizing AI-Generated Child Abuse

The European Commission has revealed plans to potentially criminalize the creation and distribution of artificial intelligence (AI)-generated imagery and deepfakes depicting child sexual abuse (CSA). This initiative aims to update existing laws to address technological advancements in this domain.

The proposed changes involve the introduction of a new criminal offense specifically targeting the live-streaming of child sexual abuse. Additionally, the proposal seeks to criminalize the possession and sharing of “pedophile manuals” while addressing concerns related to the use of AI chatbots for child abuse.

The European Commission aims to amend rules established in 2011 through this proposal, suggesting modifications to mandatory reporting requirements for offenses related to child sexual abuse. The broader legislative package aims to prevent child sexual abuse, enhance awareness of online risks, facilitate crime reporting for victims, and provide support, including the right to financial compensation.

The impact assessment conducted by the commission before proposing these changes highlighted the growing online presence and “latest technological developments” as factors creating new opportunities for child sexual abuse. In response to these risks, the proposal encourages member states to invest in awareness-raising initiatives to protect children online.

There are concerns that technology is being misused to generate content depicting child sexual abuse, commonly referred to as child sexual abuse material (CSAM). The rise of artificial content has led to worries about the potential complications it could introduce for the identification of real victims by law enforcement authorities, necessitating a review of existing regulations.

The final approval of these proposals rests with the European Parliament and the European Council. According to the commission, if an agreement is reached on amending the current directive addressing CSA, the changes would become effective 20 days after publication in the Official Journal of the EU.

The ordinary legislative procedure dictates that when the European Commission submits a proposal, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers may either approve or amend it. In cases of disagreement, both institutions can propose amendments, leading to negotiations. Once concluded, both institutions have the option to vote for or against the final version.

In a related development from May 2022, the commission proposed additional legislation focusing on the obligation of digital services to employ automated technologies for detecting and reporting CSAM and identifying grooming activities targeting children. The current proposal is seen as complementing the 2022 regulation proposal.

The increased awareness of the dangers associated with deepfakes and AI-generated images over the past two years has contributed to a more comprehensive understanding of the potential risks, especially since the introduction of the private message scanning proposal.

Photo by Dušan Cvetanović

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