AI-Generated Explicit Images of Minors: An Unsettling Legal Dilemma in Spain
Unraveling the Scandal
Spain’s legal system is grappling with a novel and disturbing challenge: the creation and distribution of explicit AI-generated images involving underage girls. The Spanish prosecutor’s office is investigating the legality of such actions following a 200-page police dossier containing around 20 complaints from families. Allegations suggest that false explicit images of young girls, created using artificial intelligence, were circulated on social media platforms and chatrooms used by teenagers in Almendralejo, a town in the Extremadura region. Madrid also has a similar ongoing investigation.
Teenagers as Perpetrators
The police report identified teenagers aged between 13 and 15 as the main source of these explicit images. The legal complexity arises as Spanish law stipulates that individuals under 14 cannot be charged with a crime. However, their cases can be referred to child protection services, leading to mandatory rehabilitation courses. The prosecutor’s office is currently reviewing the documents to decide whether any individuals over the age of 14 can be investigated and possibly charged with a crime.
Miriam al Adib, the mother of one of the victims, revealed that the distribution of these fabricated images started in July. “Many girls were completely terrified and had tremendous anxiety attacks because they were suffering this in silence,” she said. Al Adib has called for this issue to be part of the national political agenda, emphasizing the interconnected issues of bullying, sexual violence, the hypersexualisation of children, objectification of women, and early access to pornography.
Fernando Miro, a professor of criminal law and an AI advisor to the Council of Europe, stated that any criminal liability would depend on the age of the perpetrators. If they are older than 14, they could face charges related to child pornography and crimes against personal honour, image, or moral integrity.
Greater Issue: AI Misuse
The core issue highlighted in this report is the growing concern over the misuse of AI technology to generate explicit images, particularly involving minors. The Spanish authorities’ investigation underscores the need for a broader discussion on the legal and moral implications of such actions. There is a dire need for stringent regulations and awareness to prevent the potential misuse of AI technology for malicious purposes.
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