Assembly Member Paulin’s Legislation Making the Dissemination of Deepfake Images a Crime is Signed into Law

Albany, NY – Assemblymember Amy Paulin’s (D-Scarsdale) legislation (A.3596A/S.1042A), which makes the nonconsensual use of “deepfake” images disseminated in online communities a criminal offense, has been signed into law by Governor Hochul. 

“Deepfakes” are fake or altered images or videos created through the use of artificial intelligence. Many of these images and videos map a face onto a pornographic image or video. Some create a pornographic image or video out of a still photograph. These pornographic images and films are sometimes posted online without the consent of those in them – often with devastating consequences to those portrayed in the images.

“Regardless of the motivation for creating and distributing deepfakes - whether it is to humiliate, coerce, control or distress an individual – under this new law the perpetrator will be prosecuted under the NYS Penal Code and if convicted spend up to a year in jail,” said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. “Deepfakes can have a lifelong negative impact, as they are posted online and can’t be removed easily. I’m pleased that we have now updated the law to make the dissemination of deepfakes a criminal offense.”

According to recent cybersecurity data, deepfakes are growing exponentially - doubling every six months. Deepfakes also disproportionally victimize women. Of those currently circulating online, research shows that over 90 percent depict non-consensual porn featuring women.

There is also significant evidence that intimate image abuse harms women more and in different ways than it harms men. Researchers have found that the mental health impacts on women are akin to those suffered by victims of sexual assault.

When women’s images are posted onto pornography sites, they are humiliated, shamed and often receive demeaning and frightening messages from men who have viewed their images. Women have also reported feeling unsafe and constantly on alert while in public or around men they don’t know and trust. The threat of violence is exacerbated when personal information about the victim is shared alongside the image.

This type of intimate image abuse has also been used as a mechanism for “shutting women up.”Some women may shut down their blogs, avoid websites they formerly frequented, take down social networking profiles, refrain from engaging in online political commentary, and choose not to maintain lucrative or personally rewarding online presences.

“Deepfakes can be used to coerce and control women,” said Assemblymember Paulin. “Women in abusive relationships already find it extremely challenging to leave or go to the police for a myriad of reasons. Intimate image abuse makes leaving abusive relationships and reporting a perpetrator harder still. This legislation is a first step to prevent the proliferation of deepfakes, amending the Penal Code so that they can be prosecuted as the serious offenses they are.”