Are you naked
Artificial intelligence - and suddenly you're naked
Deepfake videos are on the rise: soon you can no longer believe your eyes. A Russian Telegram bot now hits below the belt with Deepnudes - for a moment you are still dressed, you are suddenly naked. What sounds like a perverse gimmick has serious consequences for the victims and all of us.
Drop the covers
Incredible: Barack Obama insults Donald Trump as “total and complete dipshit”. Can you believe it? No wonder - the video is fake. More precisely deepfake, created by artificial intelligence. As the cybersecurity company Sensity AI has revealed, a Russian developer is now going one step further: He is distributing a bot on the telegram messaging platform, which users can use to create nude pictures using AI.
The user sends a photo of his victim to the bot. Schwupps, he receives the photo back within minutes - the head is now adorned with the body of a porn actress. Such sometimes realistic-looking pictures were taken on Telegram at least 100,000 times by July 2020, the number of unreported cases behind them should be exorbitant.
To advertise its offer, the operator used the Russian social network VK. With success: over two thirds of the users of the bot come from Russia or the neighboring countries, around two percent together from France, Germany and Italy. The bot is probably due to an app called DeepNude. This app went offline shortly after a Vice article exposing the Deepnude scandal was published - but the code was restored using reverse engineering. No expense is too great for anyone who wants to make money with nude pictures.
Deepfakes, deep nudes and the dark side of AI
Deepfakes have nothing to do with still waters. Deepfakes are images and videos that were created using artificial intelligence, good graphics cards and fast computers. The term is a combination of “deep learning” and “fake” - the AI learns to switch human faces, to let people say things they have never uttered. Deep nudes, on the other hand, target the intimate sphere: Artificial intelligence not only creates new but also naked bodies for us.
Deepfake technology has been around since the end of 2017. While at that time hundreds or even thousands of pictures of a person and days of effort were needed, now a handful of pictures and a few hours are enough to produce deceptively real material. Technology is developing rapidly. It should soon be very easy to create fake videos. Who can you trust then? The IT forensic scientist Prof. Dr. Martin Steinebach from the Fraunhofer Institute comes to the following conclusion:
"The only thing you can really do is get away from this: A video comes from somewhere, I just believe it now."
Despite the risk that the deepfakes could lead to unrest, rifts and conspiracy theories, he remains optimistic:
"If it were so easy to throw the world into chaos or to stir up countries against each other, it would probably have already happened."
Well, maybe it is already - who knows?
Artificial intelligence sounds like a mixture of Alexa, Terminator and Chucky, the killer doll. At first glance, AI promises high-tech, future and comfort. If you dig deeper, data protection risks, abysses and opportunities for abuse become apparent.
Data protection is bare
Even if it is not about your body, which is connected to your head in photos, you are affected by data protection law. The naked body is extremely sensitive - any unwanted look at it is an encroachment. Prof. Danielle Citron of the University of Maryland Carey School of Law calls this the "invasion of sexual privacy" and describes the following thoughts of a victim:
"As a deepfake victim said to me - it felt like thousands saw her naked, she felt her body wasn't her own anymore."
Many victims do not even know which ticking time bombs haunt the net. The victim is sometimes photographed without consent - in a completely harmless context. The perpetrators often fall back on freely available photos. Those affected have no idea. Once uploaded to the bot, the wave begins: The Telegram users spread the fake nude photo, there is no stopping it. The perpetrators do not even shy away from minors. In 63 percent of the cases it affects women from their circle of friends. With Friends Like These, who needs enemies.
Exposed and exposed
Unexplored technology in the wrong hands always leads to chaos and ruin - see Skynet. When the Deepnudes are released, the victims end up in the pillory. This has serious consequences for their psychological stability, their social life and their professional existence.
Short experiment: Imagine a fake nude picture of you appeared on the Internet under your name. If you google you, you will find the photo within seconds. How do you feel about it? Who around you could take a look at it?
- Your spouse would certainly not be particularly keen on it.
- Your boss might want to get rid of you quickly.
- Your political career, your reputation, gone.
Once online, always online.
Even if almost all deep nudes sufferers are women or girls who are already suffering from digital violence at an alarming rate, everyone could become a victim in the future. At least everyone who has put photos and videos of themselves online or has them photographed. No reason for privacy advocates to pat themselves on the back as privacy-conscious people: The right to informational self-determination also means being able to upload pictures and video material of yourself if you want. If we have to fear that we will soon be naked on the Internet ourselves, we will no longer take advantage of our right, our freedom to do what we want, and instead we will withdraw. From social networks, from life, out of sight, out of mind.
Those who do not parry stand there with their pants down
Artificially created porn images are nothing new - Revenge Porn has been around for a long time. Real sex videos are posted online without the consent of the other party. For those who can't keep their hands off themselves, relevant sites also offer deepfake videos - up to a thousand of them are uploaded every month. According to the Dutch company Deeptrace, 96 percent of the 15,000 or so deepfake videos checked are pornography. On it: Hollywood actresses like Emma Watson, pop singers like Taylor Swift and Lena Meyer-Landrut. Not only celebrities are affected, influencers also come into focus. Since countless photos and videos of these are available online, there is a comprehensive treasure trove of data that can be used for deep nudes.
The artificially generated images or correspondingly created video material offer explosive blackmail potential. Anyone who deviates from the crowd, asks more precisely or puts their finger in the wound, will in future be silenced with deepfakes and deep nudes. If you don't parry, you could suddenly find yourself on a Nazi demo video - or in jail faster than you would like. Well done deepfakes can support suspicions, influence elections, discredit politicians. The blackmailer as a tech-savvy Erlkönig: And if you're not willing, I need (artificial) violence!
An undisguised view of the future
Deepfake videos are the icing on the cake of fake news: They are still rare, but soon the secret services, crazy people and despots are licking their fingers for them. Naked images created by artificial intelligence may seem childish and silly - but doesn't every potentially dangerous technology start off small?
About the author
Data protection - isn't that boring? But on the contrary. As a right of defense against the state, the right to informational self-determination in everyday life between digitization and surveillance is more important than ever. It is my aim to draw attention to this. more →
As experts in data protection, IT security and IT forensics, we advise companies across Germany. Find out more about our range of services here:
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