AOC Spearheads Bipartisan DEFIANCE Act to Combat Non-Consensual, Sexually-Explicit ‘Deepfake’ Media

AOC Spearheads Bipartisan DEFIANCE Act to Combat Non-Consensual, Sexually-Explicit 'Deepfake' Media

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) has introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Disrupt Explicit Forged Images and Non-Consensual Edits Act of 2024 (DEFIANCE Act), which aims to combat the spread of deepfake technology and protect victims of digital forgery.

This historic legislation proposes to provide a federal civil right of action for people whose likenesses have been modified using software, artificial intelligence, or other technical means to make them appear legitimate.

The DEFIANCE Act, co-sponsored by a bipartisan coalition that includes U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Senator Josh Hawley, addresses the critical need to hold perpetrators of non-consensual deepfakes responsible. Deepfake technology has grown more widely available, with an alarming 96% of deepfake films circulating online being non-consensual pornography.

AOC emphasized the long-overdue necessity of federal legislation to support victims of non-consensual deepfakes, stating, “Victims of nonconsensual pornographic deepfakes have waited too long for federal legislation to hold perpetrators accountable.” The DEFIANCE Act aims to empower victims to defend their reputations and pursue civil action against those responsible for producing, distributing, or receiving digital forgeries.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin welcomed the bipartisan effort to keep Americans, particularly women and children, safe from online exploitation. He stressed the genuine suffering caused by non-consensual deepfakes and the significance of empowering victims to seek justice.

The DEFIANCE Act has received significant support from organizations that fight sexual exploitation and advocate for survivors’ rights. Omny Miranda Martone, Founder and CEO of the Sexual Violence Prevention Association, defined deepfake pornography as a type of digital sexual violence that violates victims’ permission, autonomy, and privacy. Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, emphasized the critical need for legislation to bring criminals accountable and provide justice to survivors.

The new legislation is supported by a wide coalition of groups including the National Women’s Law Center, UltraViolet, and the Joyful Heart Foundation, is a critical step forward in tackling the changing reality of digital exploitation. This Act aims to limit the disastrous impact of non-consensual digital forgeries and protect persons’ dignity and rights in the digital age by introducing legal remedies for victims of deepfake technology.

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