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The DEFIANCE Act, a bipartisan bill to address and prevent nonconsensual deepfake pornography, introduced in the House and Senate

For immediate release – March 7, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC 

Today, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY–14), Mike Garcia (R-CA–27), Ted Lieu (D-CA–36), Nancy Mace (R-SC–1), Deborah Ross (D-NC–2), Lori Chavez De-Remer (R-OR–5), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA–10), Max Miller (R-OH–7), and Jamie Raskin (D-MD–8) introduced the bipartisan Disrupt Explicit Forged Images and Non-Consensual Edits Act of 2024 (the DEFIANCE Act). 

On January 30th, 2024, the DEFIANCE Act was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee; U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee; and U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Josh Hawley (R-MO). 

Deepfake pornography uses artificial intelligence to generate fake sexually explicit videos or images of someone without their consent. Currently, there are no federal laws addressing this issue. The DEFIANCE Act would address and prevent nonconsensual deepfake pornography by providing a civil right of action for victims to seek justice. 

“We greatly appreciate these Representatives’ brave legislation that will protect victims across the country,” said Omny Miranda Martone, the Founder and CEO of the Sexual Violence Prevention Association (SVPA). “Deepfake pornography is a form of digital sexual violence. It violates victims’ consent, autonomy, and privacy. Victims face increased risk of stalking, domestic abuse, loss of employment, damaged reputation, and emotional trauma.”

As of 2023, over 98% of deepfakes on the internet were pornography. There were over 500,000 deepfakes shared online in 2023. The number of deepfakes online is doubling every six months. 

The DEFIANCE Act provides a civil right of action for victims to seek justice against perpetrators who create, distribute, or solicit deepfake pornography without the consent of the person whose likeness is depicted. This will help prevent sexual violence in the future.

The DEFIANCE Act has been met with significant support from victims as well as organizations dedicated to women’s rights, sexual violence, and victim advocacy. Over 40 organizations have endorsed the bill including RAINN, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), National Organization for Women (NOW), National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), and National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV).  See the full list at the end.

The SVPA was approached by many victims with traumatic stories of nonconsensual deepfake pornography. In response, in June of 2023, the SVPA published an open letter to Congress urging them to address nonconsensual deepfake pornography. Sixty organizations dedicated to sexual violence, women’s rights, and victim advocacy signed on including the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence (NCDSV), Feminist Majority Foundation, UltaViolet, National Women’s Political Caucus, and multiple chapters of the National Organization for Women (NOW). This pressure along with the recent news regarding Taylor Swift, pushed Congress to take action.

Unfortunately, due to my outspoken work on this issue, deepfake pornography has been made of me,” said Martone. “As a survivor, this was very triggering and provoked traumatic memories. This is yet another example of how deepfake pornography is used to silence and oppress women and minorities. Yet, there are no options for me to take legal action. This issue will continue to increase until victims can seek justice. The DEFIANCE Act will change this.

This guy from my gym created fake porn of me after I said no to a date,” said an anonymous victim of nonconsensual deepfake pornography. “He made it look like I was doing explicit things with him. He showed it to a bunch of people that go to our gym, boasting about how easy it was to create on some app called Face Magic. Luckily, one of them told me and I talked to the manager. He got banned from the gym but then he posted it on Instagram. Luckily, Instagram took it down but a bunch more people saw it. This whole experience was really traumatizing. I spoke with a lawyer about suing him but she said it wasn’t really possible. What he did was legal. Now I feel even more powerless.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) urges Congress to speedily approve the DEFIANCE Act of 2024,” said Christian F. Nunes, President of the National Organization for Women. “The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to produce and then distribute nonconsensual forged images – usually of women of color and the LGBTQ+ community – that are sexually explicit must be stopped. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would provide relief to victims by allowing them to take civil action against those who have produced or received, and then distributed pornographic images without consent. Victims would have the legal power to seek damages and have the images removed. Deepfake pornography is a growing problem and could be effectively curbed through the DEFIANCE Act.

The proliferation of nonconsensual, sexually-explicit ‘deepfake’ images has exploded online harming hundreds of thousands and threatening to harm anyone who has a photo online,” said Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE). “It is past time that our laws catch up and hold the perpetrators of this abuse accountable! The DEFIANCE Act is a critical step forward allowing a path to some justice for survivors through civil remedies. This federal law will surely stop many abusers from creating this exploitive content!” 

For further information on the DEFIANCE Act, please go to: www.s-v-p-a.org/defiance.

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About the SVPA

The Sexual Violence Prevention Association (SVPA) is a national nonprofit dedicated to preventing sexual violence systemically. You can learn more about our organization on our website or in our impact report.

Links

Endorsements 

  1. Sexual Violence Prevention Association (SVPA)
  2. RAINN
  3. National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)
  4. National Organization for Women (NOW)
  5. National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
  6. National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
  7. National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV)
  8. National LGBTQ Task Force
  9. National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH)
  10. National Partnership for Women & Families
  11. Ujima, The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community
  12. Futures Without Violence
  13. YWCA USA
  14. Joyful Heart Foundation
  15. UltraViolet
  16. Center for Survivor Agency and Justice (CSAJ)
  17. My Image My Choice
  18. Reclaim Coalition
  19. Ms. Magazine
  20. Democratic Women’s Caucus (DWC)
  21. Jewish Women International
  22. American Association of University Women (AAUW)
  23. End Rape on Campus
  24. Protect America’s Daughters
  25. SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change
  26. Students Against Sexual Assault
  27. Legal Momentum
  28. Sakhi for South Asian Women
  29. Trans Empowerment Project
  30. End the Silence
  31. Hire Survivors Hollywood
  32. Sexual Assault Response Coalition (SARC)
  33. Catholics for Choice
  34. Foundation Ra
  35. Explain the Asterisk
  36. Rooting Movements
  37. Recognize Violence, Change Culture (RVCC)
  38. Equality California
  39. Street Grace
  40. Esperanza United
  41. What Were You Wearing

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