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South Korean man jailed for just two years for generating, distributing AI-generated child abuse porn

As the legal landscape grapples with the darker aspects of generative artificial intelligence, a South Korean judge has made history by delivering a sentence related to AI-generated child abuse images for the first time in the country.

According to CNN reports, an unnamed man in his 40s has been sentenced to over two years in prison after being found in possession of approximately 360 exploitative AI-generated images of children earlier this year. These disturbing images, which were thankfully left undescribed, were reportedly also distributed.

Prosecutors successfully argued in the Busan-region court that, in light of AI advancements, South Korea’s definition of “sexually exploitative material” should be expanded to encompass imagery or descriptions of “virtual humans” engaging in sexual acts.

Although this ruling marks South Korea’s first encounter with AI-generated explicit imagery, previously often referred to as “deepfakes,” the country has not been immune to controversies surrounding this rapidly evolving technology.

According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, at the start of 2021, hundreds of thousands of people signed an anonymously written petition urging the South Korean government to enforce stricter penalties for websites posting deepfake pornography featuring celebrities, including some who were underage.

The South China Morning Post noted that the petition emerged online after certain “spycam” photos of a member of a K-pop girl group, manipulated and shared online, had gained notoriety.

The petition expressed concerns about distributing videos featuring victimized female celebrities on various social network services and the harassment and insulting comments they endured. Deepfakes were unequivocally characterized as a sexual crime.

Within a day, the petition amassed over 330,000 signatures, underscoring the seriousness with which some individuals in the country regarded the issue of deepfakes.

While more than two and a half years have passed since the petition’s emergence, South Korea seems poised to take technological threats seriously. The rest of the world, including the United States, may soon follow suit in addressing these complex challenges.

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