South Africa Will Make Deepfake Porn Illegal

By | December 8, 2020

South Africa is about to become the latest of a small number of countries to introduce a law against ‘deepfake porn’. The Cybercrimes Bill is directed against revenge porn and, under that banner, covers photo shopped images and specifically deepfake porn. The bill is apparently ‘just one swish of a presidential pen away from becoming law’.

The following digital messages will now be classed as a revenge porn offence:

Any message that identifies or describes a person who is having their nudity exposed against their will.
Any image which shows ‘genital organs’, ‘the anal region’, or ‘breasts’ cannot be shared without the subject’s consent.
Photoshopped images – which make it appear like somebody is nude when that may not be the case – are also outlawed.
The same applies to sharing ‘deepfakes’. This sophisticated technology can replicate a person’s appearance. Of course, this can be used for nefarious purposes, to make it look like a victim has willingly taken part in an explicit act.
Forwarding these messages will also serve as a criminal offence – the laws don’t just apply to the content creator(s)

‘Revenge porn’ warning: It’ll soon be illegal to send these messages in SA

Personally, I believe that the creation of deepfake porn for private use should remain legal, and this bill seems to apply only to the sharing of such material through electronic messages. And what the above bill does show is that the problem of deepfake porn can be covered under existing revenge porn laws (South Africa did not have laws against revenge porn until this bill, unlike most Western countries). However, with regard to this South African bill, it goes further than the revenge porn laws of some other countries, even the UK. Under the UK revenge porn law, as I understand it (I’m no lawyer), to constitute ‘revenge porn’, the offending material has to be sent with the purpose of humiliating or causing distress to the subject.

Earlier this year, South Korea became the first nation to make deepfake porn (even apparently the mere production of it) a criminal offence, with sentences of up to five years in prison for offenders, or ten years if the offender earned money from his crime.

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