Italy PM Giorgia Meloni seeks $100k in damages over deepfake porn videos

Italy PM Giorgia Meloni's deep fake image is created by digitally superimposing the face of one person onto the body of another. The deepfake videos in question surfaced in 2022, prior to Meloni's appointment as Italy's Prime Minister.

Livemint
First Published21 Mar 2024
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia  Meloni is scheduled to testify before a court on July 2nd.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is scheduled to testify before a court on July 2nd. (REUTERS)

Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is pursuing legal action and seeking €100,000 ($109,345) in damages after explicit deepfake videos featuring her were created and disseminated online without her consent. 

A deepfake image is created by digitally superimposing the face of one person onto the body of another. The deepfake videos in question surfaced in 2022, prior to Meloni's appointment as Italy's Prime Minister.

Investigators have identified and charged a 40-year-old man and his 73-year-old father with defamation for allegedly superimposing Meloni's face onto pornographic content and uploading the manipulated videos on the internet.

BBC reported that the police was able to locate the accused by tracking the smartphone that was used to upload the videos. 

Under Italian law, certain cases of defamation can be classified as criminal offenses, potentially resulting in jail sentences. 

Meloni is scheduled to testify before a court on July 2, the BBC report said. The indictment alleges that the doctored videos were uploaded to a pornographic website based in the United States, garnering "millions of views" over several months.

The Italian premier's legal team has described the request for €100,000 in damages as "symbolic," stating that the Prime Minister intends to donate the entire amount to support organizations that assist women who have been victims of gender-based violence. "The demand for compensation will send a message to women who are victims of this kind of abuse of power not to be afraid to press charges," said Maria Giulia Marongiu, Meloni's lawyer.

Deepfakes are a form of synthetic media created using artificial intelligence (AI) to manipulate or generate visual and audio content, often with malicious intent, to appear authentic. The term "deepfake" originated in late 2017 on Reddit when a user by the same name established a platform for sharing pornographic videos made with open-source face-swapping technology.

As AI capabilities continue to advance, deepfakes have become increasingly realistic and widespread, posing a significant threat to public trust and the integrity of information. These highly convincing fake audio and video recordings can be weaponized to spread misinformation, sway public opinion, and tarnish reputations by depicting individuals saying or doing things they never did.

Deepfakes have raised concerns among global leaders about their potential for misuse and the dissemination of disinformation. 

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