Congressman to DOJ: Protect Children from AI Exploitation
On Thursday, Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) along with 29 other congressmen sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland expressing “grave concern” over the online spread of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) that are generated by artificial intelligence (AI). The letter comes amid heightened alarm from a wide swath of governmental officials and family advocates over the issue.
In a rare show of unity, attorneys general representing all 50 states plus four territories signed a letter last week urging Congress to examine how AI is exploiting children through the generation of CSAM. “While internet crimes against children are already being actively prosecuted, we are concerned that AI is creating a new frontier for abuse that makes prosecution more difficult,” they wrote. “We are engaged in a race against time to protect the children of our country from the dangers of AI. Indeed, the proverbial walls of the city have already been breached. Now is the time to act.”
Echoing these concerns, Good’s letter to Garland calls for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to take “swift action to combat AI-generated CSAM.” The letter describes how starting in 2019, advances in AI enabled a perpetrator to upload a single image of a victim, and within seconds, CSAM could be generated. Within just one year, the letter notes, “the AI application had already been used to target over 100,000 individuals.” Good’s letter goes on to cite a Washington Post report that quoted Justice Department officials admitting that there have been no cases brought against individuals creating AI-generated CSAM even though the practice is illegal.
As Good’s letter observes, the legal precedent to establish the illegality of AI-generated CSAM has already been ruled on by three circuit courts, which 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.”
The letter further requests that the DOJ collaborate with other agencies and organizations such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to “generate an effective action plan” to combat AI-generated CSAM and to launch an investigation into the issue. It also requests that the DOJ inform Good of any gaps in the current criminal code that may be inhibiting the agency from investigating and prosecuting AI-generated CSAM.
Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council, commended the efforts of Good and other government officials to combat the growing issue.
“The kinds of depravity that find community on the internet and even in real life are shocking and difficult to combat,” she told The Washington Stand. “I am grateful to Rep. Good for confronting this problem. All 50 AGs have joined in a letter requesting federal intervention. That kind of bipartisan engagement is rare, and it’s comforting to see that elected officials are willing to set aside differences to protect children and combat the sexual abuse of children.”
David Closson, director of FRC’s Center for Biblical Worldview, urged Christians to be vigilant in monitoring how new technological developments can be used both for good and for evil.
“By itself, artificial intelligence, like other forms of technology, is morally neutral,” he told TWS. “But in a fallen, Genesis 3 world, we can expect new forms of technology to be used for evil purposes. As Christians, we need to be thinking biblically about how we use technology and recognize ways in which AI can be used in deeply dehumanizing ways. Wherever this is happening, Christians ought to be clear in their insistence that the dignity of all people is honored and protected by our laws.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.