Legislation would target AI-generated child porn

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Feb. 2—COLUMBUS — The Attorney General and two Ohio senators are proposing legislation to the Ohio Senate that would target artificially-generated child pornography.

Senate Bill 217, proposed by Attorney General Dave Yost and sponsored by Ohio State Sens. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) and State Senator Louis W. Blessing, III (R-Colerain Township), targets the spread of AI-generated child pornography, a flagrant misuse of the technology that remains largely unregulated.

"Child pornography has long been outlawed in Ohio, but the unchecked rise of AI has created a gray area for predators to fuel their sick fantasies," Yost said. "We need to act quickly to protect Ohio's children by expanding existing child pornography laws to cover artificial intelligence."

The legislation sponsors echoed the Attorney General's urgency.

"Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool that can unfortunately be used in harmful and obscene ways," Blessing said. "This legislation seeks to protect the safety and privacy of all Ohioans, especially our children, from misuse of this new technology."

Johnson added that "protecting Ohio's most vulnerable — our children — is more important than ever in a rapidly changing world. This bill creates safeguards for the use of AI, prioritizing the security of all Ohioans in a digital world."

Senate Bill 217 would enhance transparency about AI-generated images by requiring these products to include a distinctive watermark. This would ensure Ohioans are aware when a product is AI-generated and what system it was created by.

The legislation criminalizes making, transmitting, or possessing "simulated obscene material," which includes depictions of a minor or impaired person that would be prohibited under Ohio's existing child pornography laws if the depicted person was real.

Senate Bill 217 also aims to criminalize using a modified or fabricated version of an individual's voice, photograph, image, likeness, or distinctive appearance to:

—defraud another person,

—induce another person to make a financial decision or extend credit,

—damage a person's or entity's reputation,

—to depict the person, without their consent, in a state of nudity, engaging in sexual activity, or in any obscene material, or

—engage in child enticement, pandering obscenity involving a minor or impaired person, pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor or impaired person, or illegal use of a minor or impaired person in a nudity-oriented material or performance.

Senate Bill 217 must next be referred to a committee.