LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) — In a digital age where technology can easily blur the lines between reality and fiction, Michigan lawmakers are pushing for new legislation to criminalize the creation and distribution of deepfake pornography. This initiative comes as Michigan seeks to join the ranks of other states that have already taken steps to protect individuals from the misuse of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in this malicious manner. 

The bills under consideration in Michigan define deepfakes as media created using technical means to realistically depict an identifiable individual. In other words, this involves the primarily pornographic attempt to map someone’s face onto another person’s body.

MORE NEWS: Gov. Whitmer on Trump Shooting: ‘No Place for Political Violence’

According to the House Fiscal Agency, a deepfake must meet two criteria: “It is so realistic that a reasonable person would believe it depicts speech or conduct of a depicted individual” and “Its production substantially depended on technical means, and not the ability of another individual to physically or verbally impersonate the depicted individual.”

On June 12, the Michigan House passed bills 5569 and 5570 with overwhelming support, aiming to establish both civil and criminal penalties for those who create or spread AI-generated pornographic content without the depicted individual’s consent. 

Specifically, the legislation would allow victims to sue perpetrators for damages and seek injunctions, with criminal penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment, depending on the perpetrator’s intent. These bills now await consideration in the Senate.

According to a report by Home Security Heroes, the production of deepfake pornographic videos surged by a staggering 464% between 2022 and 2023. Additionally, the report notes that it can take less than 25 minutes and cost virtually nothing to create a one-minute deepfake video.

Nonconsensual deepfakes can severely damage reputations, disrupt financial stability, and cause profound emotional and psychological harm. For example, a Twitch streamer known as QTCinderella made headlines in January 2023 after discovering that an unnamed individual had created deepfake pornography using her face.

“If you are able to look at women who are not selling themselves or benefiting off being seen sexually, you are the problem. You see women as an object. I do not condone the behavior of anyone involved in this,” she said.

MORE NEWS: BREAKING: Possible Shots Fired at President Trump at PA Rally

Currently, the vast majority of deepfake content circulating online is pornographic and predominantly targets women (Home Security Heroes)​​.

Experts like Qiwei Li, a PhD student at the University of Michigan, argue that the legislation could go further. While it targets individual offenders, she argues that it does not address the platforms that host this content or the applications used to create it. Comprehensive regulation that includes these elements could provide a more robust defense against the spread of deepfake pornography.

“It’s a good start, but there’s still a long ways to go,” Li told The Detroit Free Press