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AI-Created Porn Targeted Taylor Swift. Now, Lawmakers Want to Make Sure That’s a Crime in the Military.

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After celebrities including pop superstar Taylor Swift were targeted with artificial intelligence-created pornographic images earlier this year, a key House panel wants to make sure any similar incidents in the military can be prosecuted.

In the draft text of its must-pass annual defense policy bill released last week, the House Armed Services Committee would order a military advisory panel to produce recommendations on updating the Uniform Code of Military Justice to ensure it covers the nonconsensual distribution of digitally manipulated intimate images, colloquially known as deepfake revenge porn.

“Our members are concerned about where we’re going in terms of deepfakes, revenge porn, that sort of stuff,” a senior staffer for committee Republicans said at a briefing last week. “So, we want to make sure we’re addressing that as well and making sure there wasn’t a lapse in coverage there.”

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The staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the committee, was unaware of any specific cases of deepfake revenge porn in the military. But the issue has rocked the civilian world in recent months.

Earlier this year, AI-generated sexually explicit images of Swift, arguably the biggest pop star in the world right now, rocketed around social media, highlighting how even one of the most powerful people in the world has little legal recourse after someone steals their likeness to create porn.

The Swift scandal reverberated as high up as the White House, where press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said officials were “alarmed” by the issue and called on Congress to take legislative action to ensure nonconsensual deepfake porn is a federal crime.

While Swift has been the biggest name targeted, other celebrities too have been victimized, including underage ones such as 17-year-old Marvel star Xochitl Gomez. A 2019 study by a Dutch company that specialized in identifying synthetic media said 96% of deepfakes it found were porn.

A bill introduced last year would create a federal criminal offense for creating and sharing nonconsensual digitally altered intimate images. Separate legislation introduced after the Swift scandal would give someone the right to sue if they are a victim of what the bill calls “digital forgery.” Several states have also moved to shore up their criminal codes to ensure deepfake revenge porn is banned.

In the military, the UCMJ’s handling of revenge porn in general has played catchup. Congress only added an article to the UCMJ to specifically cover the nonconsensual broadcast or distribution of intimate images in 2017 after the Marines United scandal. In that case, hundreds of intimate photos of servicewomen from across the military were shared without their consent on a Facebook group called Marines United.

Now, fast-changing technology that is readily available to anyone through programs such as OpenAI’s DALL-E and Microsoft Designer could prompt another update to the UCMJ.

The House Armed Services Committee’s National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, legislation would require the Joint Service Committee on Military Justice to produce recommendations on clarifying the UCMJ’s applicability to broadcasting and distributing of digitally manipulated intimate images. The Joint Service Committee on Military Justice is an advisory panel of judge advocates and others who consistently review the UCMJ to ensure it’s up to date.

Specifically, the advisory panel would have to consider the “advisability” of updating article 120c of the UCMJ, which covers a range of sexual misconduct, to ban sharing “an intimate digital depiction of another person that the offender knew or reasonably should have known was made without the other person’s consent and under circumstances in which that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy,” according to the draft NDAA text.

The advisory panel would have to give Congress its recommendations 180 days after the bill becomes law.

The provision still has several legislative steps before becoming law. The House Armed Services Committee will meet Wednesday to debate its NDAA.

Related: Navy Investigating More Than 100 ‘Secretly Shot’ Sexual Videos of US Troops Uploaded to Adult Website

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