Rep. Good Wants Ban on Using AI to Generate Child Sexual Abuse Materials

Advanced computer technologies are tools for countless good things, but they are also being used to generate pornography involving children.
Rep. Good Wants Ban on Using AI to Generate Child Sexual Abuse Materials
U.S. Rep.-elect Bob Good (R-Va.) delivers remarks in the House Chamber during the third day of elections for Speaker of the House at the Capitol Building in Washington on Jan. 5, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Mark Tapscott
9/15/2023
Updated:
9/15/2023
0:00

Department of Justice (DOJ) officials have yet to file a single case against any individual for using Artificial Intelligence (AI) computer programs to generate Child Sexual Abuse Materials (CSAM) despite multiple federal court decisions affirming such prosecutions under anti-pornography and obscenity statutes, according to a group of 30 House Republicans led by Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.).

“This year, there have been numerous reports of widespread AI use for generating CSAM. A Washington Post article cited an internal survey by one dark-web forum which showed that 80 percent of their 3,000 users reported utilizing AI to generate CSAM,” Mr. Good told Attorney General Merrick Garland in a Sept. 14 letter obtained by The Epoch Times.

“The same report explained that, ‘Justice Department officials who combat child exploitation say such images still are illegal even if the child shown is AI-generated, but they could cite no case in which someone had been charged for creating one.’ This report is deeply concerning, and we seek to understand what steps can be taken to address this perverted application of AI,” Mr. Good continued.

“At least three circuit courts have found that possession and distribution of CSAM may be prosecuted under existing child pornography and obscenity statutes, even if they do not depict an actual act of child abuse: United States v. Mecham, No. 19-40319 (5th Cir. 2020), Doe Boland, 698 3d 877 (6th Cir. 2012), and United States v. Hotaling, 634 F.3d 725 (2nd Cir. 2011),” Mr. Good pointed out.
Joining Mr. Good in signing the letter were 27 other conservative House Republicans, including Oklahoma’s Josh Brecheen, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Eli Crane of Arizona, Byron Donalds of Florida, Mary Miller of Illinois, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Matt Rosendale of Montana, Doug LaMalfa of California, Rich McCormick of Georgia, Ken Buck of Colorado, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, Mark Alford of Missouri, David Rouzer of North Carolina, Barry Moore of Alabama, Randy Weber of Texas, French Hill of Arkansas, Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, Ronny Jackson of Texas, Michael Cloud of Texas, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin, Ben Cline of Virginia, Chip Roy of Texas, and Mike Garcia of California.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, second from left, answers questions during a meeting with U.S. attorneys at the Justice Department in Washington on June 14, 2023. He was joined (from left) by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, and U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, second from left, answers questions during a meeting with U.S. attorneys at the Justice Department in Washington on June 14, 2023. He was joined (from left) by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, and U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Mr. Good’s letter follows a widely publicized Sept. 13 “AI Insight Forum” hosted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in the nation’s capital that brought together dozens of digital industry executives and experts to sit down with congressional leaders to discuss how regulators should approach the controversial computer program capabilities.

Among the tech industry leaders in attendance were Elon Musk, owner of X (formerly known as Twitter), a pioneer of Space Commercialization, and founder of the Electric Vehicle (EV) Tesla. Also, there were Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, whose firm created and sells ChatGPT.

The issue of CSAM was not discussed during the forum, but Mr. Good is determined to force the issue to a prominent place on the nation’s public policy agenda.

“The first reports of AI being used to exploit children for the purpose of generating CSAM surfaced in 2019, when it was revealed that AI could generate obscene, personalized images of minors under the age of 18. The process for generating this disturbing content was simple—a perpetrator merely had to upload a photo of their intended cyber victim, and in seconds, CSAM could be generated. By July 2020, the AI application had already been used to target over 100,000 individuals,” Mr. Good told Mr. Garland.

“Congress has a vested interest in this matter dating back to the passage of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act in 1974. Since then, Congress has passed additional legislation regarding this issue and acted in conjunction with federal agencies to apply a multi-pronged approach in addressing sexual abuse of children. We are calling on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to take swift action to combat AI-generated CSAM,” Mr. Good continued.

Mr. Good asked Mr. Garland if DOJ has “conducted an analysis of available relevant data, such as cyber-tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children” regarding CSAM and whether DOJ has been “inhibited from investigating and prosecuting CSAM due to gaps in current criminal code.” Mr. Good also asked Mr. Garland if DOJ will launch an investigation specifically focused on CSAM producers and peddlers.

A DOJ spokesman did not respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment on the Good-led letter and an explanation of the lack of prosecutions of individuals linked to CSAM.

Mark Tapscott is an award-winning investigative editor and reporter who covers Congress, national politics, and policy for The Epoch Times. Mark was admitted to the National Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Hall of Fame in 2006 and he was named Journalist of the Year by CPAC in 2008. He was a consulting editor on the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Other Than Honorable” in 2014.