Legislation combats threats of nonconsensual explicit deepfake sharing, establishes legal safeguards for Michiganders

LANSING, Mich., March 13, 2024 — State Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing) unveiled a bill today targeting the escalating issue of nonconsensual sharing of sexually explicit deepfakes, AI-driven tools that can be used to convincingly create a video appearing as footage of a person speaking and acting with their own voice and mannerisms. House Bill 5569, dubbed the “Intimate Deepfake Bill,” establishes civil recourse for victims, and creates criminal penalties for the nonconsensual dissemination of deepfakes that feature the intimate parts of an individual, or falsely depict an individual engaging in a sexual act.

“The advent of new AI technology has captivated everyone’s attention with its promise and potential but also is a cause for very serious concerns. Deepfakes, content made to mimic reality, have the potential to cause serious harm to targeted individuals. The potential for harm is even greater when deepfakes are used to falsely depict the intimate parts of an individual, or to falsely depict an individual engaging in a sexual act,” Tsernoglou said. “Famous or not, my bill would help protect all Michiganders from the nonconsensual sharing of intimate deepfakes. Just as we’ve seen with the emergence of other powerful technologies shaping our world, we must ensure our laws evolve to keep pace with AI.”

Violators of the new laws could face a misdemeanor charge, with a maximum prison sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $3,000. Under certain conditions, such as intent to profit or harass, or if the depicted individual suffers financial loss, the charge could escalate to a felony. The law would allow for courts to potentially award damages caused by both economic and noneconomic reasons, including financial loss, mental anguish, embarrassment and humiliation. The court may also award legal and attorney fees, as well as any profit made from the dissemination of the deepfake.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Criminal Justice.