Virginia has had a revenge porn law since 2014, however, that law did not cover fabricated images and videos, an act that has become more common in recent years, thanks to technology. But, starting 1 July, Virginia has officially expanded the ban to include realistic fake videos and photos, including computer-generated “deepfakes”.

The amendment was passed earlier this year, making it one of the first places to have a law in place for the technology.

In 2014, Virginia passed a law that bans the spread of nude images or video “with the intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate” another person. The 2019 amendment to the law includes “a falsely created videographic or still image” — which could refer to “deepfakes” video and Photoshopped images or otherwise faked content.

Violating the rule carries up to 12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.

While India does not even recognise revenge porn, The New York Times notes41 states in the US had banned “revenge porn” by early 2019.

Deepfake is a very problematic technology. While it has its own fun applications, it has acquired a notorious status owing to its ability to superimpose people’s faces on other bodies. Obviously, such an application has a great deal of appeal for the porn industry and deepfakes are flourishing. The tech can also be used to show politicians and world leaders saying random things. In the wrong hands, and if nothing is done about it, this technology is powerful enough to have a destabilising impact on the world.

Software for making deepfakes is available free of cost and it creates convincingly life-like videos, like the recent ones made of Kim Kardashian and Mark Zuckerberg.

There are tons of explicit videos online where celebrities’ faces have been grafted over someone else’s. All of these videos, of course, have been put up by anonymous “creators”. There is one such fake video of Scarlett Johansson, which was described as real “leaked” footage, that was watched on a major porn site over 1.5 million times. Such videos, by the way, have also been spotted on PornHub that claimed to ban AI-generated deepfake porn in February 2018.

Recently another horror evolved from this technology — called DeepNudes — which was an application that used neural networks to turn images of women wearing clothes into their (realistic-looking) nudes! Following a spike in popularity, and a global spotlight being placed on the app, it was pulled down by its creator.

(Also read: DeepNudes: The latest horror turning hapless women’s pictures into nudes)

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