China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has amended its Civil Code Personality Rights (Draft) to stipulate that no organization or individual may infringe the portrait rights of others by means of digital technology forgery.
The restrictions, announced last week, are the latest attempt to reduce the global spread of AI-empowered, highly convincing “deepfake” face-swapping images and videos. Such videos first appeared on the Internet last year, featuring celebrity faces realistically superimposed on actors in porn videos. Victims were powerless to protect their rights, and calls were made for protective regulations.
In January the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its Worldwide Threat Assessment which listed cyber threats as a primary concern, explicitly mentioning deepfakes.
Deepfake videos have been proliferating across Chinese social media. On popular video-sharing platform Bilibili last year user “Change-faces man” replaced the face of Hong Kong movie star Athena Chu with mainland A-lister Yang Mi in a scene from the 1994 Chinese TV series The Legend of the Condor Heroes. The video garnered more than 100 million views on Chinese micro-blogging website Weibo and raised concerns about the technique’s potential impact on credibility. User “Change-faces man” deleted the video under pressure, but that didn’t stop the use of deepfakes on other spoof videos.
The Chinese government’s revised Civil Code states that without subjects’ informed consent, no person can use deepfakes or other digital technologies to replace faces, except in exceptional circumstances stipulated by the law.
The report on the revision of the Civil Code’s Personality Rights (Draft) says the use of digital technology to falsify the portraits or voices of others not only infringes on the personal rights of natural persons, but could also cause serious adverse social impacts and endanger national security and public interests.
Author: Reina Qi Wan | Editor: Michael Sarazen