AOC Introduces Bipartisan Defiance Act To Tackle Deepfake Sexual Content

March 7, 2024

Today, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Disrupt Explicit Forged Images and Non-Consensual Edits Act of 2024 (DEFIANCE Act).

The legislation will create a federal civil right of action for victims of “digital forgery” in which their likeness is created using software, machine learning, artificial intelligence, or any other computer-generated or technological means to falsely appear to be authentic. The full bill text is available here.

“Victims of nonconsensual pornographic deepfakes have waited too long for federal legislation to hold perpetrators accountable. As deepfakes become easier to access and create — 96% of deepfake videos circulating online are nonconsensual pornography — Congress needs to act to show victims that they won’t be left behind,” said Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “The DEFIANCE Act will allow victims to finally defend their reputations and take civil action against individuals who produced, distributed, or received digital forgeries. I’m grateful to lead this legislation with Senator Dick Durbin, along with my Democratic and Republican colleagues in both the House and Senate.”  

The DEFIANCE Act is led by U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D–IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee; U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R–SC), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee; and U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D–MN) and Josh Hawley (R–MO). In the House, the legislation is co-sponsored by Representatives Mike Garcia (CA–27), Nancy Mace (SC–1), Lori Chavez De-Remer (OR–5), Max Miller (OH–7) Jennifer Wexton (VA–10), Ted Lieu (CA–36), Jamie Raskin (MD–8), and Deborah Ross (NC–2).

“We’ve struck a remarkable bipartisan note this Congress on protecting Americans – especially children – from exploitation online. This includes addressing the rise of non-consensual, sexually-explicit deepfakes, often targeted at women. The deepfakes may not be real, but they cause very real harms. It’s time to return power to the victims and give them a tool to demand justice from those responsible for these horrific images. I thank Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez for her work to introduce the bipartisan DEFIANCE Act in the House and look forward to working with her to pass it into law,” said U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The legislation is endorsed by the National Women’s Law Center, National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), Sexual Violence Prevention Association, Democratic Women’s Caucus, National Domestic Violence Hotline, UltraViolet, Futures Without Violence, Ujima, the National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community, Center for Survivor Agency and Justice (CSAJ), Joyful Heart Foundation, My Image My Choice, Reclaim Coalition, SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change, American Association of University Women (AAUW), Sakhi for SOuth Asian Women, Esperanza United, End Rape on Campus, Ms. Magazine, Foundation Ra, Explain the Asterisk, Protect America’s Daughters, Sexual Assault Response Coalition (SARC), Students Against Sexual Assault, What Were You Wearing, Rooting Movements, Hire Survivors Hollywood, Recognize Violence, Change Culture (RVCC), Equality California, and Street Grace. Quotes from these organizations follow.

“We greatly appreciate these Representatives’ brave legislation that will protect victims across the country,” said Omny Miranda Martone, Founder and CEO of the Sexual Violence Prevention Association (SVPA). “Deepfake pornography is a form of digital sexual violence. It violates victims’ consent, autonomy, and privacy. Victims face increased risk of stalking, domestic abuse, loss of employment, damaged reputation, and emotional trauma.”

“The proliferation of nonconsensual, sexually explicit ‘deepfake’ images has exploded online, harming hundreds of thousands and threatening to harm anyone who has a photo online,” said Dawn Hawkins, CEO, National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “It is past time that our laws catch up and hold the perpetrators of this abuse accountable! The DEFIANCE Act is a critical step forward allowing a path to some justice for survivors through civil remedies. This federal law will surely stop many abusers from creating this exploitive content!” 

Photo credit: Source.

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