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GOP lawmakers sound alarm over AI used to sexually exploit children

FIRST ON FOX: A group of 30 House Republicans is demanding to know what the Department of Justice (DOJ) is doing to combat the emergence of AI-generated child pornography on the internet.

‘We write to you with grave concern regarding increasing reports of artificial intelligence (AI) being used to generate child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) which are shared across the internet,’ Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland. 

‘While recognizing the benefits of appropriate uses of AI, including medical research, cybersecurity defense, streamlining public transit, and may other applications, we believe action must be taken to prevent individuals from using AI to generate CSAM.’

They’re asking Garland about whether his department has ‘the necessary authority’ to crack down on the growing issue and whether ‘gaps in the current criminal code’ make it harder for law enforcement officials to pursue those who create and possess AI-generated CSAM. The lawmakers are also asking the DOJ to launch an internal inquiry into the troubling material.

‘The first reports of AI being used to exploit children for the purpose of generating CSAM surfaced in 2019, when it was revealed that AI could generate obscene, personalized images of minors under the age of 18,’ they said.

The lawmakers cited an October 2020 report by the MIT Technology Review that warned of an AI app that was being used to digitally ‘undress’ images of women, predominantly underaged girls.

But AI technology has only grown more widespread and sophisticated since then, with diffusion model apps like Midjourney and DALL-E making it easy for most online users to generate fake images or alter existing ones. Midjourney has banned words related to human anatomy from prompts in an effort to prevent creation of AI-generated pornography.

The Washington Post reported in June that using the AI technology to create CSAM of children who do not exist still violated child pornography laws, according to DOJ officials, but did not mention specific incidents of someone being charged for possession of such items.

‘This report is deeply concerning, and we seek to understand what steps can be taken to address this perverted application of AI,’ the lawmakers’ letter said.

In addition to Good, the letter is also signed by Reps. Ken Buck, R-Colo.; Ben Cline, R-Va.; Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla.; and Ralph Norman, R-S.C., among others.

Earlier this year, the attorneys general of all 50 states wrote to Congress urging it to expand current rules on child pornography to cover AI and set up ‘an expert commission to study the means and methods of AI that can be used to exploit children specifically.’

Fox News Digital reached out to the DOJ for comment.

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