Italian PM demands ₹91L damages for deepfake video

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is pursuing 100,000 euros (Rs 90,88,800) in damages after the emergence of deepfake pornographic videos featuring her circulated online. Investigators have disclosed that two individuals generated pornographic material of Meloni by overlaying her face onto another person’s body, subsequently disseminating it on the internet. The accused, a 40-year-old man and his 73-year-old father, face defamation charges, as per the BBC.

Law enforcement authorities were able to trace the perpetrators by monitoring the smartphone used for uploading the illicit videos. Notably, the contested deepfake video predates Meloni’s assumption of the Prime Minister’s office in 2022.

In Italy, certain defamation cases carry criminal implications, potentially resulting in imprisonment. Meloni is slated to provide testimony in court on July 2. The indictment alleges that the videos were uploaded to a pornographic website in the US, amassing “millions of views” over several months.

While the Italian PM’s legal team describes the damages claim as “symbolic,” they affirm that Meloni intends to allocate the entire sum to “support women who have been victims of male violence.” Maria Giulia Marongiu, Meloni’s legal counsel, emphasized that the compensation demand aims to “encourage women subjected to such abuses of power not to hesitate in pursuing legal action.”

A deepfake denotes a synthetic media form that employs artificial intelligence to manipulate or fabricate visual and auditory content, often with malicious intent.

The term “deepfake” originated in late 2017, as per MIT, when a Reddit user under the same pseudonym established a platform for sharing pornographic content created using open-source face-swapping technology. Deepfake leverages artificial intelligence, specifically deep learning, to fabricate images or videos portraying fictitious events. Technological advancements have rendered deepfakes increasingly realistic and prevalent.

Deepfakes pose a significant threat to public trust and truthfulness. They serve as potent instruments for disseminating misinformation, distorting public sentiment, and tarnishing reputations by generating convincing audio and video recordings depicting individuals engaging in actions they never performed. Numerous global leaders have voiced apprehensions regarding the escalating proliferation of deepfakes.

Roy Walsh

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