South Korean Man Sentenced to Jail for Using AI to Create Exploitative Images of Children
In a groundbreaking case, a South Korean man has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for using artificial intelligence (AI) to generate exploitative images of children. This is the first case of its kind in South Korea, as courts worldwide grapple with the intersection of new technologies and the creation of abusive sexual content.
The man, who remains unnamed and is in his 40s, was found guilty of creating approximately 360 AI-generated images in April. Fortunately, the images were not distributed, and they have since been confiscated by the police. The South Korean prosecutor’s office argued that the definition of sexually exploitative material should encompass descriptions of sexual behaviors by “virtual humans,” not just the appearance of actual children.
The court’s ruling sets a precedent, highlighting that sexually abusive content can include imagery created with high-level technology that looks indistinguishable from real children and minors. This case emphasizes the need for governments around the world to regulate the AI industry, particularly regarding its potential to violate people’s bodily autonomy and safety, especially for women and minors.
Similar incidents involving AI technology and abusive content have been reported in other countries. In Spain, authorities launched an investigation after AI was used to alter images of underage girls, removing their clothing and circulating the manipulated images. One girl’s mother revealed that a boy attempted to extort her daughter using a deepfake image of her naked. Deepfakes, highly convincing fake videos created using AI, have also been frequently used to insert women’s faces into non-consensual pornographic content.
As a response to such incidents, streaming platforms like Twitch have tightened their policies, referring to deepfake sexual videos as “personally violating and beyond upsetting.” Other major platforms, including TikTok, have implemented further restrictions on sharing AI-generated deepfakes. Countries like the European Union and China have also taken steps to regulate AI use, with the United States following suit, as major tech leaders convene to approach AI legislation.
The South Korean man’s sentencing marks an important milestone in combating the use of AI for harmful and exploitative purposes. It underscores the urgent need for global regulations to keep up with the rapid advancements in AI technology, safeguarding individuals’ privacy, security, and well-being.