AI Pornography Hinders Protection of Real Children in Japan

The battle against child pornography is encountering a new challenge in the form of AI-generated images, complicating efforts to remove illegal content from the internet. Experts are concerned that AI-generated images of a sexual nature, though not depicting real children, pose a significant obstacle in the fight against child exploitation.

In Japan, the law against child prostitution and child pornography does not cover AI-generated images. This legal loophole makes it difficult to distinguish between real child pornography and AI-generated content, hampering law enforcement efforts to address the issue. The Safer Internet Association (SIA), a reputable Tokyo-based organization consisting of platform operators, has been working to curb the dissemination of online content related to child pornography, illegal drug trade, and fraudulent activities.

The SIA has expressed its concern about the presence of AI-generated images on domestic websites, pointing to the challenges these images present in determining whether they depict real children. The organization has refrained from requesting the removal of such content, considering the absence of legal grounds, and has emphasized the need for careful judgment in handling these cases.

While the Penal Code’s distribution of obscene objects provision could potentially apply to AI-generated images, its strict requirements make it unlikely for distributors to face legal consequences. As a result, the SIA has emphasized the need for balanced decision-making in addressing AI-generated content, acknowledging the potential impact on freedom of expression.

The Anti-Human Trafficking Crime Division, responsible for investigating child exploitation cases, has expressed concern over the potential delay in uncovering harm and identifying victims due to the prevalence of AI-generated images. There is also apprehension about websites overseas not complying with blocking requests, complicating the situation for authorities.

The proliferation of AI-generated images of a sexual nature has been observed on several domestic websites, raising concerns about their accessibility to users worldwide. These images, despite not depicting real children, are viewed as a serious issue in light of the loose regulations surrounding such content in Japan.

Many of these images have attracted international attention, particularly from individuals in countries where stricter regulations are in place. The ease with which AI can generate elaborate images in large quantities poses a challenge for law enforcement and regulatory authorities in curbing the dissemination of such content.

Individuals involved in the creation and distribution of AI-generated images have reported producing and posting substantial quantities of content, raising ethical concerns about the potential impact on impressionable users. Calls have been made for discussions on relevant regulations, citing the need to align with international standards to address the issue of AI-generated sexual images of children.

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