Sharing certain deepfake images could mean prison time soon in Minnesota.
Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill into law making it a criminal offense to share nonconsensual deepfake sexual images or to share deepfake images to influence an election within 90 days of one.
Under the law, which goes into effect Aug. 1, sharing those kinds of images could mean a $10,000 fine or up to five years in prison.
"It's not that deepfake technology is new; it's been around for a while. It's the availability of it," said State Sen. Erin Maye Quade, who authored the bill. "Having it on your smartphone really is new. It used to take a massive production studio and weeks to make an authentic looking deepfake."
A deepfake is an image, video or audio recording that has been altered, often with the use of artificial intelligence.
Sen. Quade says the law targets deepfakes that would widely be believed to be misleading. The specific language in the bill states that it applies to any deepfake, "that is so realistic that a reasonable person would believe it depicts speech or conduct of an individual.
"So for example, if I made a deepfake of our governor with his face superimposed on ... Jesse "The Body" Ventura doing a body slam at a WWE, I think people would know that didn't happen. That's not the kind of deepfake we are trying to regulate," Quade said.
The bill passed through the Minnesota legislature almost unanimously, with only one member voting against it.
The issue of deepfakes has been brought up in other political realms recently, like a deepfake video of President Joe Biden seemingly making transphobic remarks circulating social media.
A few other states — Texas, Virginia and California — have also passed laws concerning deepfakes.
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