Gong-Gershowitz and Edly-Allen Introduce Legislation Targeting “Deepfakes”

State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz

Feb. 9, 2023

Gong-Gershowitz and Edly-Allen Introduce Legislation Targeting “Deepfakes”

GLENVIEW, Ill. – State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, and state Sen. Mary Edly-Allen, D-Libertyville, recently introduced legislation, House Bill 2123 and Senate Bill 1392, to crack down on abusive and harmful use of digital forgeries known as “deepfakes” and create a path for victims experiencing physical, emotional, reputational or economic harm to seek justice.

Deepfake technology is used to create extremely realistic digital forgeries, which are increasingly being used to falsely portray people participating in pornographic activity without their consent. Victims are routinely humiliated, abused and blackmailed as the result of the creation and dissemination of pornographic deepfake videos.

Deepfakes are also being used to falsely portray public figures making offensive or harmful statements, including elected officials and world leaders. These false depictions have the potential to undermine public trust, obfuscate the truth, and spread dangerous misinformation. In a particularly dangerous example, Vice reported a video forgery that used deepfake technology to falsely depict Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy surrendering to Russian forces. This type of malicious misinformation has the potential to create mass confusion and provoke violence if not addressed.

“This ‘deepfake’ technology presents a very real threat to privacy and to the truth,” said Gong-Gershowitz. “Deepfakes can falsely and convincingly portray anyone saying anything, creating confusion and eroding public trust. This raises serious implications in a world already struggling with rampant misinformation and social media manipulation. Our laws and regulations must keep up with this rapidly-evolving technology to protect individual privacy and public trust.”

“A disturbingly common use of deepfake technology involves superimposing the likeness of a non-consenting person onto a pornographic video with the intent to harass, humiliate, or blackmail that person. The targets of this abuse are disproportionately women and LGBTQ people,” said Edly-Allen. “This legislation is an important step in protecting victims and providing them with a new avenue to seek justice.”

Matthew Kugler, Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, said: “My research shows that people recognize the serious harms that come from violating people’s sexual privacy through deepfakes. This bill protects Illinois residents against misappropriation of their sexual identities and requires honest labeling of non-sexual deepfakes. Yet it still leaves room for parody, satire, and other legitimate uses. As deepfakes become more and more common, this bill will help both innovators and everyday people understand the lines that must be respected to preserve individual dignity.”

Dr. Mary Anne Franks, Professor of Law at University of Miami School of Law and President of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, said: “Deepfakes degrade the marketplace of ideas and inflict serious harms on the individuals falsely depicted, particularly women and other vulnerable groups. With this bill, Illinois continues its tradition of cutting-edge, comprehensive legislation to protect privacy, dignity, and equality.”



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