German investigators use deepfake photos of kid sexual abuse to destroy on-line predators

German lawmakers recently passed a law that allows investigators of child sexual abuse to use artificially created images to capture online predators.

The recent raids on the European nation have resulted in multiple arrests as part of nationwide investigations. This follows reports from mid-2020 that the authorities were “overwhelmed” by the number of incidents reported.

In the country’s efforts to combat child sexual abuse, investigators and child advocacy groups have called for deepfake generators to be used to produce artificial “child pornography”. This would reportedly include images created using a database containing actual images of child sexual abuse.

According to a report in the Suddeutsche Zeitung, the rationale for the investigators’ request is that undercover agents can infiltrate child sexual abuse rings. The so-called “Darkeweb” groups often request pictures of potential new members as a form of initiation and verification.

As a rule, it is illegal for law enforcement officers to add actual depictions of child sexual abuse to investigative targets. Despite ethical concerns about the emergence of novel, artificial depictions of child sexual abuse, experts in Germany believe that the use of such materials will facilitate the identification and arrest of online predators.

The new legislation also allows the arrest and prosecution of adults who inadvertently attempt to care for a parent or undercover officer who they believe is a minor.

Take quickly: Initially there was slight opposition to the law from political leaders who feared that the use of criminal content to arrest criminals was not justified. Even some lawmakers who supported the effort saw the potential for negative effects.

In 2019, Stephan Thomae, vice-chairman of the opposition Free Democrats group, said “the aim should really be to remove child pornography from the Internet rather than enrich it with computer-generated material” before finally endorsing the initiative.

Despite the potential for good, it will take a while to clarify the ramifications of the decision. We’re not sure if German investigators devised a method to tag and track the images as they are passed around, or if they tested them for resistance to detection.

H / t: Jack Clark, AI import

Published on February 1, 2021 – 18:20 UTC

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