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Taiwan: Deepfake pornographic video victims call for new laws against sexual violence in cyberspace

The comedian Mr. Bean's face was swapped with Charlize Theron's in an Ad. Screenshot from Fat Ninja's YouTube video

Taiwan's recent arrest of popular YouTuber Xiao Yu, Zhu Yuchen, for allegedly selling deepfake pornographic videos of public figures has drawn public attention to artificial intelligence (AI) crimes and the government's lack of laws to address sexual violence in cyberspace.   

Xiao Yu was arrested, along with two of his associates, on October 17 for selling AI-generated deep fake pornographic videos of public figures via a Telegram group since July 2020. The three were released on bail on October 18.

At least 100 individuals, including politicians, YouTubers, and celebrities, have fallen victim to the new technology crime. Their faces were implanted onto pornographic videos and sold for profit. Reportedly, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is one of the victims, though the fake video clip featuring her was not explicit and was quickly removed from LINE, the most popular messaging app in Taiwan. 

According to an investigative report conducted by Taiwan media outlet Mirror Media in May, the production team produced a number of 30-second fake porn videos on porn sites and invited viewers to pay a membership fee for full access, which would get them added to the Telegram group. They recruited about 8,000 members on four different Telegram groups before they caught public attention. 

Members could vote to crowd-fund new productions and place special orders for tailor-made porn videos either for sexual fantasies or for reasons like humiliating a former partner. Authorities estimate that they had gained a 10 million New Taiwan dollar (an approximately 360,000 US dollar) profit from the pornographic videos. 

Several victims have spoken out since Xiao Yu's arrest. Huang Jie, a councilor from Kaohsiung city, is the most outspoken victim. She expresses hope that the incident could educate people on the harm caused by AI crime : 

「又不是妳真的去演。」 

「夠正才會用妳的臉。」 

「妳是瞧不起演A片的嗎?」 

「小玉也太不挑了。」 

不是真的去演,傷害和性暴力就不存在嗎?五月受訪時,當我知道我的臉被拿去這樣使用,一開始覺得「惡搞影片應該蠻好笑的吧」但當我真的看到影片時,完全笑不出來,只有滿滿的噁心反胃,甚至起雞皮疙瘩、深陷恐懼。 無論小玉的心態是好玩、惡搞還是單純想賺錢,這對受害者來說,就是真實的傷害、羞辱和踐踏。

稍早,有許多實況圈、網紅界受害者私訊我…我們願意鼓起勇氣,一起站出來提告,用法律制裁小玉,也嚴正警告躲在電腦後觀看影片的人,你們不是沒有責任,你們的訕笑、觀看,都是一次次的加害。

在此,除了要求警方嚴加偵辦,也懇請社會大眾關注逐漸興起的AI犯罪,#不要下載不要流傳這類影片,更要共同抵制這種低級的公眾人物,#不能再養出第二個小玉 ,讓這種墮落的風氣繼續蔓延。

最重要的,也呼籲立法院正視 #數位性暴力 的問題,進行修法,才有更有力的工具嚴懲惡狼…

“It is not the real you in the act.”

“Your face is used because it is pretty.”

“So you look down on Adult videos?”

“Xiao Yu picked a wrong face.”

Even it is not the real person, does it mean that there is no sexual violence in it?

Back in May, when I was told that my face was being used, I thought it was just another funny spoof video. But when I watched the video, I could not laugh and my stomach felt like throwing up. Then I felt creepy. I was struck with fear. Regardless of Xiao Yu’s intention, whether he did it for fun or profit, the harm and humiliation felt by the victims were real. 

A number of victims, actresses from reality shows and YouTubers, contacted me in private… we would stand up together to press charges against Xiao Yu. And we warned those who were hidden behind the computers watching the videos. You are part of the crime. Your dirty jokes and consumption have harmed others, over and over.

Here, we urge the police to carry on with the investigation, and urge the public to pay attention to the emerging AI crimes. #don’t-download-and-spread-these-videos, boycott people with such debased taste. #don’t-create-another-Xiao-Yu and spread such perverted culture.

Most importantly we urge the Legislature to pay attention to #sexual-violence-in-cyberspace, amend the law to punish the evil wolves… 

Huang Jie's view was shared by Manaki, an actress who was frustrated some netizens took the incident lightly or even treated it as a joke:

其實被惡意換臉已經是一種傷害了,加上有些人資訊不清楚可能會誤以為真。 身為當事人是真的很困擾,身心也非常疲憊。名譽也造成不可抹滅的侵害! 希望大家別再當玩笑了,謝謝你們。 也希望數位性暴力能立法管制!

Having our faces planted in others like that is a harm. Some may believe it is real. I was mentally tormented by the incident and the harm done to my reputation is irreversible. Please don’t take this as a joke. I wish more laws could be introduced to address the problem of sexual violence in cyberspace. 

Kao Chia-yu, a lawmaker and a member of the Democratic Progressive Party who was a victim of the AI crime, pointed out on Facebook that currently in Taiwan, the only legal avenue to punish deepfake pornography crimes is through defamation charges, a minor crime with a relatively light punishment. She also advocated for the introduction of new laws to stop deep fake AI crimes. 

In a Facebook post on October 18, Taiwanese President Tsai Ingwen vowed that the government would tighten laws to crack down on disinformation and AI-generated fake videos.

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